Senegal will be looking to defend their title when they face Gambia on Monday. After this match, five-time champions Cameroon and the rising Guinea will square off at this location in Group C, which appears to be among the most challenging in the game.
Preview (Senegal vs. Gambia)
Senegal enters this year’s game as the favorites to do just that, according to multiple bookies. No side has been able to defend the AFCON championship since Egypt won their third straight victory back in 2010. Only three countries have won the AFCON championship consistently throughout the competition’s history. Egypt (1957, 1959; 2006, 2008, 2010), Ghana (1963, 1965), and Cameroon (2000, 2002). Senegal defeated Egypt to win the tournament, shrugging over their unimpressive start to the 2021 regional championship. It included only one goal scored and two goalless draws in the group rounds.
With a roster that includes players like Nicolas Jackson, Serge Aurier, Kalidou Koulibaly, and two-time African Player of the Year Sadio Mane, The Lions of Teranga have grown stronger since then. Aliou Cisse’s team enters the tournament in great form. They have won six of their past 10 games across all competitions and only lost once. Senegal’s 1-0 victory in their most recent meeting took place in the African Nations Cup in 2015. It allowed them to continue their unbeaten streak against the Gambia, which dates back to 2008.
As the greatest underdog and lowest-ranked team in Group C—currently ranked 29th out of 53 African footballing nations in the FIFA World Rankings—Gambia will open the tournament. The West African team, will be participating in their second AFCON. They will remember their first tournament well as they overcame African heavyweight Tunisia. The Scorpions’ performance leading up to this tournament has been other than stellar. They suffered defeats in their 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign against Burundi and the Ivory Coast.
Alfred Gomis and Bamba Dieng of Lorient have taken the place of goalkeepers Boulaye Dia and Seny Dieng, who were late dropouts from the Senegal team. Many believed that Tottenham Hotspur’s Pieter Matar Sarr would not be allowed to play in this competition after he left the field just 32 minutes into the team’s New Year’s Eve encounter against Bournemouth. Mane will serve as the team’s captain and play in the front. Koulibaly and Edouard Mendy, two former Chelsea teammates, will be vital members of The Lions of Teranga’s defense.
Fortunately for the Gambia, neither the players nor the staff was affected in any way by the airplane issue, therefore Saintfiet will have his entire roster available for the team’s first game of the campaign. The attacker, who signed with Newcastle United in the summer, was loaned to Feyenoord. He has since made 12 league appearances, scoring three goals and dishing out two assists. This season, he also scored his first-ever Champions League goal.
Senegal 2-0 Gambia
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