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Gambia, Mali go toe-to-toe for group F top spot

Africa Cup of Nations continues with another mouth-watering contest as Gambia and Mali go toe to toe for the top spot in Group F at the Limbe Omnisport Stadium on Sunday.

Having both picked up opening-day wins on Wednesday, both sides are currently level on three points at the top of the table and this makes for an exciting watch.

Gambia’s Ablie Jallow celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on January 12, 2022
© Reuters

Gambia marked their debut at the Africa Cup of Nations on a winning note as they edged out Mauritania 1-0 when the sides squared off in the opening game on Wednesday.

The West Africans secured their spot in Cameroon after finishing top of Group D in the qualifiers, level on 10 points with runners-up Gabon and one point above third-placed Congo DR.

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Gambia could not have wished for a better start on the biggest stage in African football as Ablie Jallow opened the scoring just 10 minutes into the game before repelling Al-Murabitun and holding on to their lead.

This was a first win in three games for Tom Saintfiet’s men, who suffered a narrow 1-0 friendly defeat at the hands of Kosovo on June 11 before losing 2-0 to New Zealand five days later.

Mali’s Ibrahima Kone celebrates scoring their first goal with Hamari Traore and Amadou Haidara on January

Like the Scorpions, Mali got their AFCON campaign off to a flyer as they saw off a rampant Tunisia side 1-0 at the Limbe Omnisport Stadium on Wednesday.

Despite being on the back foot for most of the game, the Eagles took the lead against the run of play when Ibrahima Kone stepped up and converted his 48th-minute penalty to condemn the Eagles of Carthage to an opening-day defeat.

Mali have now won all but one of their last five games in all competitions, while they are unbeaten in seven of their last eight, picking up six wins and one draw in that time.

This superb run has seen them secure a place in the playoffs of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, after an unbeaten qualification campaign where they finished top of Group E with 16 points from six games.

Mali are now one win away from almost certainly securing qualification to the round of 16, where they were sent packing in Egypt three years ago courtesy of a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Ivory Coast.

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