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Camara Hits Brace As Senegal Start AFCON Defence With Win Over Gambia

Senegal moved top of the early Group C table ahead of Cameroon's game against Guinea later Monday.


Senegal’s players celebrates scoring their team’s third goal during the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2024 group C football match between Senegal and Gambia at Stade Charles Konan Banny in Yamoussoukro on January 15, 2024. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)

 

Lamine Camara scored twice as Senegal kicked off their Africa Cup of Nations title defence with a 3-0 victory over 10-man Gambia in Yamoussoukro on Monday.

Senegal moved top of the early Group C table ahead of Cameroon’s game against Guinea later Monday.

Aliou Cisse’s showed enough quality in the Ivorian heat to suggest they could become the first team to win back-to-back AFCON titles since Egypt reeled off three in a row in 2006, 2008 and 2010.

Senegal’s players celebrates scoring their team’s third goal during the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2024 group C football match between Senegal and Gambia at Stade Charles Konan Banny in Yamoussoukro on January 15, 2024. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)

Senegal’s XI featured just five of the starting team which beat Egypt on penalties in the final two years ago and it was youngster Camara who stole the show.

Gambia already face an uphill task to reach the knockout stage two years after a shock run to the quarter-finals on debut.

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The holders wasted little time in piling the pressure on their West African neighbours and took the lead in the fourth minute.

Sadio Mane was left in plenty of space at the back post and his lay-off was swept home left-footed by the unmarked Pape Gueye from inside the area.

Gambia endured a troubled build-up to the tournament, boycotting a training session over an unpaid qualification bonus before their flight to the Ivory Coast was forced to turn around just nine minutes after take-off due to technical problems.

Senegal’s midfielder #25 Lamine Camara (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring his team’s third goal during the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2024 group C football match between Senegal and Gambia at Stade Charles Konan Banny in Yamoussoukro on January 15, 2024. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)

But they grew into the game after the early setback, going close to an equaliser when Musa Barrow curled a free-kick into the side-netting.

Gambia were dealt a blow shortly before half-time though when Cardiff City midfielder Ebou Adams was dismissed for a studs-up challenge.

The underdogs continued to threaten after the restart however, as Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy was forced to dive to his right to palm away Barrow’s long-range drive, with Ali Sowe slicing the rebound wide.

Senegal effectively killed off the game just moments later, though, as a slick passing move ended with 20-year-old Camara collecting Ismailia Sarr’s pass and drilling a low shot into the far corner.

The Lions of Teranga rounded off the scoring with an early contender for goal of the tournament in the 86th minute.

Clever trickery from Iliman Ndiaye took him away from two defenders and his pass was expertly bent into the top corner from the edge of the ‘D’ by Metz midfielder Camara.

Mohamed Badamosi came close to grabbing an injury-time consolation for the Gambians when he headed wide, but they were ultimately outclassed and will now turn their attentions to their second game against Guinea on Friday.

Senegal will likely face a tougher assignment when they face five-time winners Cameroon.

AFP