Jallow fires last-gasp winner as Gambian Scorpions sting Tunisia

Gambia substitute Ablie Jallow (3R) celebrates with teammates after scoring the goal that beat Tunisia in an Africa Cup of Nations Group F match in Limbe on Thursday

Gambia substitute Ablie Jallow (3R) celebrates with teammates after scoring the goal that beat Tunisia in an Africa Cup of Nations Group F match in Limbe on Thursday Creator: Issouf SANOGO

Forward Ablie Jallow and goalkeeper Baboucarr Gaye starred as Gambia snatched a last-gasp 1-0 win over Tunisia on Thursday to finish second in Group F of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Jallow came off the bench to score the 93rd-minute winner for the Scorpions, who are debuting in the flagship African tournament.  

There was also drama in first-half added time as Gaye, who plays for German fourth division club RW Koblenz, brilliantly saved a Seifeddine Jaziri penalty. 

Tunisia missed a penalty in all three group matches with captain Wahbi Khazri failing in a loss to Mali and Youssef Msakni unsuccessful in a victory over Mauritania.

"I am almost speechless," said Belgium-born Gambia coach Tom Saintfiet. "To defeat Tunisia, one of the African giants, is a magnificent achievement.

"The Tunisians had problems with Covid, but so did we. They had much more possession that us, but our defence was outstanding and Ablie (Jallow) has now scored two superb match-winning goals."

Gambia came into the 24-nation tournament as the lowest ranked team -- 150th in the world -- and have become only the third debutants after Cape Verde and Madagascar not to lose a group match. 

Saintfiet, who has coached national teams in Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and Asia, instilled team spirit and discipline in the last west African nation to qualify for the finals.

Tunisia, making a record 15th consecutive appearance at the Cup of Nations, dominated possession at the Stade Omnisport but seldom troubled Gaye.

The Germany-born goalkeeper will celebrate his 24th birthday on Monday, the day Gambia face Guinea in the round of 16 in Bafoussam.

Guinea will lack captain and talisman Naby Keita, the Liverpool midfielder, who will be serving a one-match suspension.

Tunisia, who had only five substitutes due to a Covid-19 outbreak in the camp that robbed them of Khazri and star full-back Ali Maaloul, face Nigeria on Sunday in Garoua.

Mali topped the final standings on goal difference from Gambia after a 2-0 win over already-eliminated Mauritania in Douala and face Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday in Limbe.

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