Gambia book Afcon place near Moroccan quake site

football10 September 2023 21:36| © AFP

Gambia reached the Africa Cup of Nations finals on Sunday after a dramatic 2-2 draw with Congo at a Moroccan stadium in the area of an earthquake that claimed more than 2 120 lives.

Goals from substitutes Muhammed Badamosi in the last 11 minutes of regular time earned Gambia the point they needed to seal back-to-back qualifications.

Gambia hosted the final Group G fixture in Marrakech because they lack an international-standard stadium.

When the quake struck late on Friday 72 kilometres southwest of the central city, Gambian and Congolese players fled their hotels and slept outdoors.

Rival Belgian coaches Tom Saintfiet of Gambia and Paul Put of Congo said the squads had been traumatised, but the African Football Confederation (CAF) ordered the match to go ahead.

It kicked off in front of a few dozen spectators after the Moroccan interior ministry said at least 2 122 people had died in the quake and more than 2 400 were injured, many critically.

An eye witness at the Marrakech stadium told AFP there were supporters backing both sides, wearing national colours and waving Gambian and Congolese flags.

Gaius Makouta put Congo ahead on 30 minutes and Silvere Ganvoula doubled the lead from a penalty in first-half added time.

A draw kept 2021 Cup of Nations quarterfinalists Gambia three points above Congo in a group won by Mali.

Gambia are the 22nd qualifiers for the 13 January - 11 February tournament in the Ivory Coast, with Burundi, Cameroon and Namibia competing for the last two places.


The other qualifiers are Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia and Zambia.

Elsewhere, Napoli star Victor Osimhen scored a hat-trick in Uyo as Nigeria thumped Sao Tome e Principe 6-0 in Group A, having won the first-round match 10-0 last year.

He headed in from a corner on 14 minutes, converted a 70th-minute penalty after being fouled by goalkeeper Ronaldo Silva, and netted with a close-range shot 10 minutes later.

Ademola Lookman scored the second goal with a low shot after a run across the edge of the area to give the Super Eagles a two-goal halftime advantage in heavy rain.

Taiwo Awoniyi struck with a close-range shot six minutes after the break and, after Osimhen netted twice, Samuel Chukwueze completed the rout.

It was the fifth victory in six mini-league matches for three-time champions Nigeria, whose sole blemish was a stunning 1-0 home loss to Guinea-Bissau.

In Lome, Togo came from two goals behind to defeat already-qualified Cape Verde 3-2 with Abdou Ouattara snatching the 87th-minute winner.

Kevin Pina and Gilson Tavares scored early goals for the visitors in the final Group B match before Kevin Denkey netted twice to bring the teams level.

Cape Verde finished runners-up behind Burkina Faso and both will be among the 24 title contenders in the African showpiece.