Gambia will be looking to keep the fairytale alive when they take on Guinea in the Africa Cup of Nations round of 16 at the Kouekong Stadium on today.
Kick-off is at 9pm.The Scorpions remain unbeaten in their debut appearance at the showpiece event after winning two and drawing one of their three matches in Group F.
Tom Saintfiet’s side finished second in the group, tied with Mali on seven points, the Eagles having pipped them to top spot due to a superior goal difference.
The Gambians have yet to beat their West African rivals and this will be just the third meeting between them. The previous two encounters came during the Afcon 2008 qualifying campaign when the National Elephants won 2-0 in March 2007 before the return fixture in June that year finished 2-2.
Saintfiet admits his team might be the underdogs, but sees it as extra motivation to beat Guinea for the first time.
“Guinea are the favorites, but that actually gives us a lot of motivation because we are in the knockout stages in our first appearance,” the Belgian said in his pre-match press conference.
“We are not afraid as we have been together with the players for over three years, meaning we have cohesion and great team spirit.
“We can employ different styles and approaches in different match situations. We want nothing short of a win and Guinea must be prepared for a proper duel.”
Kaba Diawara’s men were runners-up to Senegal in Group B, having collected four points from their opening three games at the tournament in Cameroon.
The Guineans beat Malawi 1-0 first up and then drew 0-0 with the Lions of Teranga before losing 2-1 to Zimbabwe.
They went as far as the round of 16 in the 2019 edition in Egypt and have reached the quarter-finals on four occasions in the new millennium.
Diawara has set his sights on a deep run in Cameroon and believes making a fast start against Gambia will be key to obtaining thie goals.
“We have reached an important stage and I told my players we have to treat the game as a final. In 2019 we were knocked out on the same stage, but we want it better this time round,” the French-born former Guinea international said in his pre-match press conference.
“We have to be very careful approaching the game against a very good Gambia team. What we want is to have the best start against Gambia as we seek the important win that will elevate us to the quarter-finals.” SuperSport