The Gambia has reached the final phase of the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time after beating Angola 1-0 on Thursday in the AFCON 2022 qualifiers at the Independence Stadium in Bakau.
The head coach of The Gambia national team The Scorpions, Tom Saintfiet attributed the victory to effective air transport arrangements and teamwork.
“We make history because we have the best team and not the best players. We competed in the last two years with the best teams in Africa. No one of all these teams like Algeria, Morocco, Angola and DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) were better than us. No one can beat us,” Saintfiet said in his post-match press conference.
The Belgian tactician said that they have enjoyed convenient transport arrangements as the Gambian Football Federation (GFF) and the government has been arranging special charter flights to take players to matches across the continent and from their professional clubs in Europe.
The Gambian President Adama Barrow swiftly reacted following the victory on Thursday in an interview with local television, indicating that the wait was very long.
“I think we have waited for so long since the seventies. We have tried and tried but we were not able to succeed to qualify for the African Cup of Nations. This is the first time we have qualified and I think this is great in the history of football and we will never forget this day,” Barrow said, adding that “we encourage the boys to remain as a team because teamwork is very important.”
The Gambia beat Angola 3-1 in the first-leg fixture played in Luanda last year before also defeating Gabon in Banjul.
The group’s current standing placed Gabon top with 10 points ahead of the Gambia (10 as well) on goal difference. The Gambia’s next game is against DR Congo to end the qualifiers.