Sunday, June 3, 2012

Gambia start off with vital draw

Pre-match hands shake Gambia vs. Morocco/photo:MSJoof

The Scorpions of the Gambia start off their Brazil 2014 World Cup qualifiers with a 1-1 home draw against the Atlas Lions of Morocco on Saturday.

Goals from Abdou Jammeh and Houssine Kharja were enough to earn both sides one point.

Morocco had put two into the Gambian post in both halves, but the central referee decided otherwise.

With Morocco pushing forward and spending most of the first period in Gambia’s half, the home side rather put up a defensive approach and prepared to hit Morocco with a counter attacking tactic. 

While Morocco wasted more than four chances in the first quarter of the game, the Scorpions Abdou Jammeh punished them with a near post header resulting from midfielder Demba Savage’s free-kick in the 14th minute.

Two minutes later, Morocco responded with what could have been an equalizer when Yassine Salhi fired a low shot pass Gambian goalkeeper Christopher Allen, but the Cameroonian central referee decided Salhi was offside.

The scorpions who like the Moroccans have had dismal performances in competitions headed for the dressing room with a rear lead at half time.

Both teams returned into the pitch eager to score the second goal which was likely to decide the results of the game.  

While Gambian skipper Mustapha Jarju saw his 53rd minute free-kick easily handled by Morocco’s goalkeeper Nadir Lamyaghri, Morocco’s substitute Hamza Abourazzouk saw his near post back heel flicked beside the post for a corner kick in the 64th minute.

The quest for a goal compelled the Moroccan Coach Eric Gerets to introduce two players before the second half even kick-off. 

With 15 minutes to go, the moment the visitors waited for arrived. Captain Houssine Kharja neatly taped the ball into the far bottom corner of the post to give his side a prestigious 1-1 draw in the 75th minute.

The fourth official gave three minutes of injury time and in the 91st minute Morocco had another goal disallowed after Youssef El Arabi was caught offside before putting the ball into Gambia’s net. 

New entrant and Real Zaragoza youngster Saihou Gassama could have sealed a vital win for Gambia when he shoot high from close range Demba Savage’s flick a minute later. 

Meanwhile Ivory Coast won Tanzania 2-0 in the other Group C match with goals from champion league winners Solomon Kalu and team captain Didier Drogba. 

The Scorpions of The Gambia will take on the Taifa Stars of Tanzania in Darussalam on June 10, while group favourite the Elephants of Ivory Coast travel to Rabat to take on the Atlas Lions of Morocco on June 9.

By Modou S. Joof 

Follow on Twitter: @thenorthbankeve


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