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Mauritania Begin AFCON Campaign Against Debutants Gambia

Mauritania will begin their second Africa Cup of Nations campaigns in Cameroon against debutants The Gambia in a Group F match at  Limbe Stadium on Wednesday.

The match is set to start at 16h00 GMT.

The Mourabitounes will get the show underway with a clash against the Scorpions in which a triumph against the unknown side will be a major keystone in tournament.

Mauritania settled for a goalless draw in their first pre-tournament friendly in the last weekend of 2021 before managing another 1-1 draw against Gabon.

They will try to perform better than the team performed in the AFCON 2019 where they lost to Mali 4-1 and picked goalless draws against Tunisia and Angola.

Mauritania coach Didier Da Rosa believes his charges will have a better outing adding that he is aware that they must pull a win against Gambia.

“There is potential and a lot of room for improvement in Mauritania. It’s true, there are two clear favorites with Mali and Tunisia, but we can compete if we beat Gambia in our first game. It will already be like a semi-final. Mauritania must take a step,” said coach Da Rosa.

Gambia qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations, Cameroon 2021 after finishing top of their qualifying group, which included higher-ranked and acclaimed opponents in Gabon, DR Congo and Angola.

The Scorpions achieved the unthinkable under coach Tom Saintfiet, as they were the only West African team that never qualified for the biannual tournament.

Saintfiet believes they his charges have what it takes to surprise teams although they are in a tough group in the competition.

“It’s not an easy group, but it might not be the hardest. Tunisia and Mali are favorites and Mauritania have a good team. It’s not impossible for The Gambia. We are going to play our chances to the max. My team has proven in recent years that they are competitive,” noted the Belgian gaffer.

Gambia were forced to cancel two preparatory matches against Algeria and Syria due to due to a surfeit of COVID-19 cases in their squad.

The West Africans will be counting on the likes of Assan Ceesay and Omar Colley to inspire them to not only make from the Group F, but still being part of the tournament from a playing perspective come February 6.

Tunisia and Mali are favourites in the group but with four of the six third-placed teams guaranteed a knock-out spot, a good performance for either Mauritania and Gambia will fancy their chances of progressing.


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