Gambia’s AFCON hopes end after Algeria draw

The Gambia’s feint hopes of qualifying to an Africa Cup of Nations tournament has come to an end after failing to win in Algeria in its final qualifying match in Group D on Friday evening.

Algeria, already qualified to the 2019 AFCON to be held in Egypt, hosted a Gambia side who were hoping for something of a miracle in Blida, a venue where the Fennecs never tasted defeat.

The Scorpions could only get a draw against the group leaders at the Mustapha Tchaker Stadium, meaning their qualification hopes are all but over as a win was needed and hope the result between Benin and Togo go their way.

The two sides, who played to a 1-1 stalemate in the first leg of the encounter at the Independence Stadium last year, also played out a similar result which meant Gambia continues its 36-year wait for a first competitive away win.

Friday’s match, which saw the hosts dominant throughout with 82% possession, saw them head into the halftime break with the lead through Mehdi Abeid, who beat keeper Modou Jobe to make it 1-0 to Algeria in the 43rd minute.

The Scorpions meanwhile restored parity in the 92nd minute through defender Mamadou ‘Futty’ Danso who tapped in a pass from debutant Nuha Marong past Azzedine Doukha in the Algerian goal.

Algeria played with a second-string side, resting star player Riyad Mahrez and their top scorer Baghdad Bounedjah with Gambia’s gaffer Tom Saintfiet saying he would’ve preferred them to play.

“We would have preferred to play against the A team of Algeria but this B team too played very well and we saw the tiki-taka from them,” the Belgian-born told the Algerian press after the match.

The Saint, as fondly called, still believes that Gambia can qualify to the AFCON in Egypt, hoping for a favourable outcome of its appeal lodged at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) over the ineligibility of Togo international James Adewale Olufade.

“We still rely on a decision from CAS on a player from Togo to qualify, we are confident (of a positive outcome).”

On Sunday, Benin will qualify with a win or a draw in their clash with Togo, who can also qualify with a win.