Ahead of their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) quarterfinal match against hosts Cameroun, Gambia coach Tom Saintfiet takes cognizance that the Indomitable Lions are one of the greatest nations in African and even world football, and are the hot favorites but they too are prepared for the big tussle this evening from 18:00hrs CAT.
“I give my team a 20% chance,” he is quoted by saying by CAFonline. “But we are used to it and since I took office, it has always been the case.
“We had to fight against stronger teams than us and we managed to get by. Against Cameroon, we will not be afraid, we will play to the fullest. It’s a bonus match. We visited Limbé, Bafoussam and now Douala, and we want to continue to Yaoundé”.
Debutants Gambia face hosts Cameroon in an unprecedented quarterfinal that promises a lot of excitement in Douala and though the hosts and five-time champions may seem like favorites, the Indomitable Lions have to face an emerging force in continental football, The Gambia.
Midfielder, Ablie Jallow, who accompanied coach Saintfiet at the prematch press conference, said: “It will be a tough match, but we are well prepared to go for the win and as in previous games, we will put all the assets on our side to pass.
“Cameroon will be accompanied by its fans; they are the ones under pressure. We will play our game with the firm intention of going through.”
The Gambia made it all the way through the qualifiers starting from the preliminary round, passing a group that had DR Congo, Angola and Gabon to the finals, where they have drawn with Mali and beaten Mauritania, Tunisia and Guinea to reach the final eight.
Despite feeling the AFCON for the very first time, The Scorpions have shown that Cameroonians cannot even imagine taking them lightly.
Led by Belgian Tom Saintfiet, Gambia will look once more to the lethal striking force of Ablie Jallow and Moussa Barrow who netted twice each to the moment.
Three wins and a draw for hosts Cameroon guided them to the quarterfinals with team captain Vincent Abubakar leading by example by scoring six goals in four games, to become the first player since 1998 to reach this milestone in AFCON finals.
Now he is looking for even more while aiming with The Indomitable Lions for one more step towards the ultimate.
A sixth AFCON title is the dream of everyone in Cameroon, and coach Antonio Toni Conceicao knows well an uneasy game against Gambia is another hurdle to pass to achieve that dream.
Conceiçao said: “We have managed a positive course, a satisfactory record so far. Against Gambia, the objective is to win — we are a playful team that likes to take the game on its own.
Against us, will be a team that defends well and has 5-6 high quality attacking players. Everything is possible even if we only consider victory.”
His defender Jean Charles Castelleto said: “I am very happy to take part in this competition, everything is going very well, we have had a good run so far and against Gambia — the objective remains victory.
“We will play against a good team. In Douala, we have good memories. The reception is fantastic and we expect to have a popular fervor behind the team.”
This will be the first ever AFCON encounter between the two sides with Cameroon facing debutants in consecutive AFCON matches for the first time since the 1972 group stage (three in a row).
This includes their 2-1 win against Comoros in the last round that now sees Cameroon winning their last three AFCON matches against tournament debutants, more victories than in their first six such games in the competition combined (W2 D3 L1), while they can make it four in a row here against Gambia.
Gambia are bidding to become the first debutants to reach the AFCON semi-finals since South Africa in 1996 — who went on to win the competition.
Cameroon have progressed from two of their last three quarter-final matches at the Africa Cup of Nations (L1), going through on penalties against Senegal (5-4) in the most recent such encounter in 2017.
Having scored no goals in his first seven appearances at the Africa Cup of Nations, Cameroon’s Vincent Aboubakar has scored in each of his last five in the competition (six in total this year and one in 2017) — he could become the first player to score in a team’s first five games in a single edition in the competition’s history.—Additional stats by CAFonline