The Cubs of Teranga on cloud nine
* As they reach the 2023 final against The Gambia after comfortable win over Tunisia in Monday’s semis
* Both The Gambia and Senegal won all their matches without conceding a goal in the tournament
* Senegal is winning everything right now. We must prevent them on Saturday—The Gambia coach Bojang
Senegal date The Gambia in the final of the 2023 Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations to be played on Saturday, March 11 at the Cairo International Stadium hoping to replicate the success of the country on the continent — having won the senior Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in the 2021 edition held in Cameroun while home-based national players added the glory by winning the African National Championship (CHAN).
The U-20 side beat Tunisia 3-0 at the Suez Canal Authority Stadium on Monday with player of the moment Lamine Camara scoring a double that earned him the Man of the Match award with the other goal by Pape Diop.
While 10-man Gambia sealed their placed in the final also on Monday night after beating giants Nigeria 1-0 in Cairo.
The Young Cubs of Teranga are hot contenders for the U-20 AFCON reached the final in each of their last three appearances but are yet to claim the coveted trophy.
And having qualified for the semifinals, Senegal; Nigeria; Tunisia and The Gambia have earned themselves a place at the FIFA U-20 World Cup to be hosted in Indonesia.
In the quarterfinal stage, Senegal defeated Benin 1-0; The Gambia beat South Sudan 5-0; Tunisia over Congo 5-4 on penalties after extra-time ended 3-3 while Nigeria advanced having beaten Uganda.
Senegal are also AFCON Beach Soccer champions while CHAN squad that beat hosts Algeria through post-match penalties also earned them 3 additional accolades — Fair Play award, third Man of the Match (by teenage sensation Mamadou Lamine Camara) and Best Goalkeeper Award (Pape Mamadou Sy).
The FIFA U-20 World Cup will also be Senegal’s 4th fourth appearance having also qualified in 2015, 2017 and 2019, and the team’s coach Malick Daf is quoted by CAFonline after the match as saying: “We will prepare for the final on Saturday because our objective is to win the trophy.”
While Man of the Match Lamine Camara said their emphatic 3-0 victory over Tunisia was down to team work, adding: “We’re very motivated to be here. We’re not comparing ourselves with others but we’re so happy to qualify for the final.”
Hero for The Gambia Gambia was their talisman Adama Bojang, whose long goal was jealously guarded by the rest of the squad even after defender Haruna Njie received his marching orders in the 90th minute for a second yellow card.
Nigeria went to the tournament as strong contenders having won the tournament a record seven times but substitute Ahmed Abdullahi won and missed a penalty in the closing stages of the match which Nigeria dominated.
“We lost stupidly, we were naive from the start,” said their disappointed Bosso. “We failed to take our chances and we also missed the penalty in the 86th minute.
“I am very frustrated because we had the team to go all the way. Football is cruel — We didn’t measure up but I congratulate The Gambia for winning.”
Gambia U20 coach Abdoulie Bojang told journalists that they will fight for the title against Senegal, adding: “It is extraordinary, magnificent, satisfactory and much more than that. We have scored 10 goals in this competition without conceding. We’re a small country which now plays in the tournaments.”
Both The Gambia and Senegal won all their matches without conceding a goal in the tournament. The Young Scorpions reached the semifinals of the in Mauritania two years before winning bronze.
“Senegal is winning everything right now,” Bojang is quoted as saying. “We must prevent them on Saturday.”
The two sides have a similar record in the tournament as they won all five matches without conceding a goal and scoring in each match while Senegal has the best attack of the tournament with 12 goals while The Gambia are just two shy with 10 goals.