The Africa Cup of Nations continues with another mouth-watering contest as Gambia and Mali go toe to toe for top spot in Group F at the Limbe Omnisport Stadium on Sunday.
Having both picked up opening-day wins on Wednesday, both sides are currently level on three points at the top of the table and this makes for an exciting watch.
Gambia marked their debut at the Africa Cup of Nations on a winning note as they edged out Mauritania 1-0 when the sides squared off in the opening game on Wednesday.
The West Africans secured their spot in Cameroon after finishing top of Group D in the qualifiers, level on 10 points with runners-up Gabon and one point above third-placed Congo DR.
Gambia could not have wished for a better start on the biggest stage in African football as Ablie Jallow opened the scoring just 10 minutes into the game before repelling Al-Murabitun and holding on to their lead.
This was a first win in three games for Tom Saintfiet‘s men, who suffered a narrow 1-0 friendly defeat at the hands of Kosovo on June 11 before losing 2-0 to New Zealand five days later.
Like the Scorpions, Mali got their AFCON campaign off to a flyer as they saw off a rampant Tunisia side 1-0 at the Limbe Omnisport Stadium on Wednesday.
Despite being on the back foot for most of the game, the Eagles took the lead against the run of play when Ibrahima Kone stepped up and converted his 48th-minute penalty to condemn the Eagles of Carthage to an opening-day defeat.
Mali have now won all but one of their last five games in all competitions, while they are unbeaten in seven of their last eight, picking up six wins and one draw in that time.
This superb run has seen them secure a place in the playoffs of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, after an unbeaten qualification campaign where they finished top of Group E with 16 points from six games.
Mali are now one win away from almost certainly securing qualification to the round of 16, where they were sent packing in Egypt three years ago courtesy of a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Ivory Coast.
Gambia will have to make do with the absence of Salford City full-back Ibou Touray, who hobbled off the pitch with an 82nd-minute injury in the win over Mauritania on Wednesday.
In his absence, 27-year-old Bubacarr Sanneh could come into the fold for his first starting appearance since June’s 1-0 win over Togo.
With his strike against Al-Murabitun, Jallow has now scored two goals in his last three games for Gambia and we expect the 23-year-old forward to lead the attack alongside Zurich man Assan Ceesay.
Meanwhile, Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Yves Bussouma should come in for his first start of the tournament in place of Adama Traore, who was hooked off shortly before the hour mark through injury.
The Malians will also be unable to call upon the services of El Bilal Toure as the Reims forward will serve his suspension after receiving his marching orders against Tunisia on Wednesday.
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