The Scorpions ended their historic 2022 AFCON qualification campaign top of Group D despite a 1-0 loss to the Leopards of the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday.
Kazadi Kasengu scored the solitary goal on the stroke of halftime from a dubious penalty awarded by the Egyptian referee, who until that moment of madness had a decent match. He penalised Captain Omar Colley for what appeared as an innocuous touch of the shirt of the Congolese defender and Kasengu sent debutant Sheikh Sibi the wrong way from the spot.
Another controversial moment came just at the beginning of the second half when striker Nuha Marong was fouled right inside the box but the referee, ridiculously, awarded a free-kick right on the 18-yard box. Assan Ceesay, a second half substitute also had a legitimate goal ruled out for off-site but despite giving away everything they got in the tank, the Gambians couldn’t find that elusive equaliser.
Saintfiet made eight changes from the team that started in the historic 1-0 defeat of Angola on Thursday and made five substitutions in the second stanza in search of the match tying goal. However, despite starting Match Day 6 in second, the defeat in Kinshasa counts for nothing after Gabon’s surprise 2-0 loss at Angola confirmed Gambia as the top spot team on the number of goals scored.
This had been an incredible journey for Tom Saintfiet’s charges who started from the preliminaries, where they had to overcome a stubborn Djibouti to finishing in pole position in a group that consists some of the powerhouses in African football.
Saintfiet afterwards expressed satisfaction with the second half performance and for finishing first in the group, while the Minister of Youth & Sports, Bakary Y. Badjie assured the players of a qualification bonus and improved playing conditions. The President of the GFF, Mr. Lamin Kaba Bajo expressed the Football House’s delight with the remarkable campaign by the team.