The debutantes Gambia can celebrate
* To face hosts Cameroun who beat resilient Comoros in the other Round of 16
Musa Barrow’s strike in the second half gave Gambia a historic 1-0 win over Guinea to qualify for the quarterfinals of the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on Monday as the Scorpions continue to send shockwaves in their debut appearance — who are without a loss in the competition so far.
The Scorpions date hosts Cameroun in the quarter finals after the Indomitable Lions Guinea 2-1 in the other Round of 16.
The Syli Nationale of Guinea were without influential skipper Naby Keita, who is serving a suspension while Gambia made some last minute changes to their original starting line up after three players Ibou Touray together with Noah Sonko and Saidy Janko, pulled out of the match due to illness.
Modou Barrow and Musa Barrow were expected to be in involved in the attack for the Scorpions and try to get the goals.
There were very few clear cut chances in the first half. Guinea had a half chance right at the start of the half but Mohamed Bayo could not connect well with the ball as it fell to him in the six yard area from a corner. His attempted shot was way to high.
Musa Barrow came close moments later with a left footed strike from range stinging the gloves of Guinea goalkeeper Aly Keita.
Guinea also came close just before halftime with Mohamed Bayo seeing his shot go straight into the palms of Gambia keeper Baboucarr Gaye.
After a 0-0 first half, the second period was identical to the first with both sides trying to fashion an opening.
Gambia suffered an injury blow with their star player Ablie Jallow being withdrawn from the field of play and was replaced by Ebrima Colley.
The two coaches were desperately hoping to wrap up the match in regulation time to avoid extra time and penalties.
But it was the Scorpions who drew first blood 20 minutes from time with Musa Barrow who found space in the Guinea defense to calmly slot the ball past keeper Aly Keita.
The Scorpions were reduced to 10 men with a few minutes left on the clock Yusupha Njie receiving a second yellow for a bad foul but Guinea also were reduced to 10 men a short while later with Ibrahima Sory Conté receiving his matching orders.
Gambia held on to claim another stunning victory to progress to the quarterfinals.
In the other Round of 16 match, Karl Toko Ekambi gave the Indomitable Lions the lead just before the half hour mark with a neat finish inside the area.
Captain Vincent Aboubakar doubled their advantage 20 minutes from time before Comoros captain Youssouf M’Changama pulled a goal back from free kick.
Defender Chaker Alhadhur started in goal for Comoros who were without their recognised goalkeepers for the last 16 match at the Stade Olembe in Yaoundé.
The debutants had a difficult start against Cameroon when captain Nadjim Abdou was sent off after 7 minutes for a foul on Moumi Ngamaleu.
With a man down Comoros put up brave performance against the Indomitable Lions. Andre Onana had to be at his best to keep Cameroon in the match, the Ajax goalkeeper pulled the first save of the match inside two minutes.
Onana parried away Youssouf M’Changama free kick before Collins Fai cleared the rebound.
Aboubakar was presented a great chance to increase his tournament tally, when Ekambi found him in space but his effort went wide. Ekambi scored from a Aboubakar’s pass to ease the pressure on the home faithful with a well taken strike.
Onana denied Comoros with a double save to keep Cameroon’s lead on 32 minutes. Ahmed Mogni fired a low goal bound strike which Onana turned away before blocking Mohamed Baki’s follow up strike.
The second half was more open with both side creating chances while both goalkeepers pulled brilliant saves. Chaker Alhadhur denied Aboubakar seven minutes after the restart with a great save.
Aboubakar found the back of the net but he was flagged offside on 64 minutes as Cameroon search for the winner.
The tournament’s leading scorer got his goal on 70 minutes to become the first player in the 21st century to score more than 5 goals in a single AFCON finals.
Comoros pulled a goal back from Youssouf M’Changama’s long range free kick to set up for a thrilling end.
Onana had earlier saved Abdallah Ali Mohamed and El Fardou Ben Mohamed to send the hosts through.