Yeovil Town midfielder Sessi D'Almeida gained his fifth cap for his country on Saturday afternoon, but ended up on the losing side in a shock defeat. Benin had gone into the match knowing that victory against basement side Gambia would almost ensure their qualification for the 2019 AFCON finals, but ended up on the back of a 3-1 defeat at the Independence Stadium in Bakau.
Benin were looking comfortable at half time, with Huddersfield Town striker Steve Mounié headed home a Seidou Barazé right wing cross, in team move sparked by Jodel Dossou and Mickael Poté, and held that single goal lead until 70 minutes into the match. At that point, the pattern of the match was to radically change.
Sessi D'Almeida was substituted an hour into the match, and so missed the collapse of his team. A deflected Lamin Jallow shot saw Gambia equalise, and with the home crowd responding to that, Modou Jobe put Gambia in the lead eight minutes later. In second half injury time, with Benin having pushed numbers up significantly in search of the equaliser, Gambia caught them on the break, allowing Abile Jallow a chance to sink the Squirrels.
The result blows Benin's group wide open. What was meant to be almost a two horse race between Algeria and Benin for the two places that are up for grabs for the AFCON finals, now turns into a group in which all four countries could qualify. Algeria could guarantee themselves qualification if they beat Togo in Lome on Sunday. However, regardless of that result, the overall fate of that group will not be known until March 21st 2019, when Benin play host to Togo, whilst Gambia travel to Algeria for the sixth and final set of group matches. At present, Algeria and Benin still lead the way, but with Togo and Gambia just two points behind, each country has their fate still in their own hands.
Final Score: Gambia 3 Benin 1.
Scorers: Steve Mounié (0-1, 35 mins), Lamin Jallow (1-1, 70 mins), Modou Jobe (2-1, 78 mins), Abile Jallow (3-1, 90 mins)
Fabien Farnolle, Moise Adilehou, Olivier Verdon, Khaled Adenon, David Kiki, Jordan Adéoti, Sessi D'Almeida, Seidou Barazé, Jodel Dossou, Mickael Poté, Steve Mounié.
Djiman Koukou (61 mins for Sessi D'Almeida), Désiré Azankpo (77 mins for Jodel Dossou), David Djigla (83 mins for Seidou Barazé)
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