The Scorpions of Gambia made sure to depart Mauritania with a present for their fans by beating Tunisia 4 – 2 on penalties to place 3rd in the ongoing Total U-20 championship.
With both sides failing to breach their opponents defense after regulation time, they headed straight to penalties as the decider to confirm who places third between the two nations. Gambia missed one spot kick with Habessi Achref being the victim as substitute goalkeeper for Tunisia Ahmed Labidi saved his kick. Momodou Bojang, Alieu Barry, Momodou Jallow and Adama Kanteh all scored.
Adam Karim Benlamine and substitute Hamdi Abidi found it too hard to breach Lamin Saidy in post for Gambia who saved the kicks from the aforementioned duo to emerge the hero and as well hand his team the bragging rights over the North Africans, making Hassan Ayari and Mohamed Amine Ben Zeghda’s perfect strikes weightless.
Gambia in the process have equaled their best ever performance in the tournament, matching their 2007 feat where Zambia was the victim. Tunisia on the other hand having already failed to match their 1985 success in their failure to reach the finals had a tournament to forget giving that they almost bootstrapped their way through to this stage after a near-elimination episode in the group stages followed by a 4 – 1 humiliation in the hands of debutants, Uganda.
Both sides had a couple of chances to score in regulation time with Tunisia starting the match on the brighter side and could have been up by one in the 6th minute but for Adam Ben Lamin shot going off wide. They had another opportunity in the 16th minute when skipper Zied Berrima’s corner was beautifully connected by Ramzi Ferjani forcing Lamin Saidy to make an audacious save to keep the score line barren. Gambia also missed their chance soon after when captain of the side Tijan Marr headed over the bar having connected to a Wally Fofana corner that saw the goalkeeper moving off his line leaving an empty goal.
Gambia offered little in the first half of an hour of the first half but greatly improved going into the final ten minutes of the half but had talisman Momodou Bojang strictly checked by the Tunisians thus neutralizing their attack.
Neither side was able to offer much attacking threat in the second half with tiredness setting in, barring a few minutes of intensity with Tunisia leading the way. Both sides effected changes with the hope of forcing a goal to claim victory in regulation time, but none came leaving them heading straight to penalties after 90 minutes. Tunisia substituted goalkeeper Elias Damergy off for Ahmed Labidi who made his tournament debut today.
Tunisia may not have had luck on their side going into the latter stages of the tournament but with the promise shown and the quality displayed by these young talents, they can and should be proud of their exploits.
The Gambia on the other are happy to have achieved this feat and will be aiming for a better placement in the next gathering. They can also be proud of the talent exhibited and some of them could be on their way to lucrative offers from clubs all over.