- Samson Omale
AFCON U-20: Ten-man Gambia Stun Nigeria To Reach Final
Ten-man Gambia sealed their placed in the final of the TotalEnergies U20 Africa Cup of Nations on Monday night after beating giants Nigeria 1-0 in Cairo.
The Young Scorpions talisman Adama Bojang scored the lone goal which secured Gambia their historic qualification to the final.
The Baby Scorpions held on to secure their slim victory despite defender Haruna Njie received his marching orders in the 90th minute for a second yellow card of the semi-final clash.
Gambia will face their neighbours Senegal in the final on Saturday, 11 March at 19h00 local time (17:00 GMT) at the Cairo International Stadium.
The Anglophone derby lived up to its billing in the Egyptian capital as Nigeria look to secure their place in yet another final while Gambia hope for a maiden showing in the final.
Gambia scored against the run of play when Ebrima Singhateh blocked a misplaced pass towards the path of Adama Bojang who slotted past the helpless Chijioke Aniagboso after seven minutes.
Abdoulie Bojang's Young Scorpions held on to go into the break with the narrow lead against the Flying Eagles who dominated possession but couldn't find a way past the solid defense.
Goalkeeper Pa Ebou Dampha who was named TotalEnergies Man of the Match played a key role in the historic victory for The Gambia.
The WAA Banjul FC custodian was dominant inside his area winning all aerial balls against the Flying Eagles.
The busy goalkeeper conceded a penalty five minutes from time when his challenge impeded Ahmed Abdullahi.
Abdullahi missed the spot kick as it came off the post and the Young Scorpions survived to sail through to their first ever TotalEnergies U-20 Africa Cup of Nations final.
Gambia ended the match at ten following the dismissal of Haruna Rasid Njie in the 89th minute for an unsportsmanlike gesture.
Twice bronze medalist (2007 and 2021), Gambia is already doing better by qualifying for the final and will face its neighbor Senegal to try to win the gold medal for the first time.
Gambia played the last minutes of the match with ten men following Rashid Njie's second booking.
The Baby Scorpions will face Malick Daf's Senegal in what will be the repeat of the WAFU-A qualifying tournament in Mauritania which Senegal won courtesy of Samba Diallo's diving header.
The 2023 TotalEnergies U-20 Africa Cup of Nations is Gambia's fourth participation and they have qualified to the semi-finals in three of the four tournaments.