In a historic and sensational display, the Gambian under–20 team sent shock waves through the U20 World Cup as they defeated France 2-1 on the second day of the group stage in Argentina on Thursday.
In doing so, they become the second African team to advance to the Round of 16 after that of Nigeria on Wednesday night.
The Young Scorpions showcased their determination and skill, outplaying their French counterparts and securing their second consecutive victory in the competition.
This momentous triumph not only propels Gambia into the round of 16 but also cements their status as a rising force in youth football.
Facing a French team eager to recover from their stumble against South Korea in the opening match, the Young Scorpions displayed aggressiveness right from the kickoff despite France’s early possession dominance,
Gambia seized their first real opportunity by capitalizing on a mistake by French goalkeeper Yvan Lienard.
It was Gambian midfielder Mohammed Jobe who pounced on Lienard’s poor clearance, swiftly passing the ball to his teammate Adama Bodjang inside the box. Bodjang’s shot deflected off French defender Tanguy Zoukrou and found its way into the net (13′).
This early breakthrough allowed Gambia to go into the halftime break with a well-deserved lead at Estadio Mendoza.
Returning for the second half, Abdoulai Bojang’s young prodigies refused to sit back and defend their advantage.
Their enterprising nature persisted, with Jobe causing havoc once again. In the 56th minute, Jobe was brought down in the French penalty area after intercepting a poorly cleared ball by the defense, earning Gambia a penalty.
However, French goalkeeper denied Gambia’s captain Alagie Saine the chance to extend their lead, redeeming himself on this occasion.
The missed penalty proved to be a regretful moment for Gambia, as France equalized four minutes later through a strike from Wilson Odobert.
Showing immense mental strength, Alagie Saine and his teammates remained focused on their ultimate goal—victory.
Their persistence paid off in the 65th minute when Mamin Sanyang, in a superb display of skill, maneuvered past the French defense before unleashing a powerful shot that beat Liénard.
Despite intense pressure from France in the remaining minutes, the scoreline remained unchanged, thanks to the disciplined and well-organized Gambian defense.
Making their return to the U20 World Cup for the first time since 2007, Gambia has announced its resurgence with two wins in two matches. They previously defeated Honduras by the same scoreline.
Having already secured their spot in the round of 16, the young Scorpions will now face South Korea in a decisive match for the top spot in Group F.
Gambia joins Nigeria as the second African nation to progress to the knockout stage, as Nigeria also claimed their second victory in two matches, triumphing over Italy 2-0 on Wednesday.
The Gambian under-20 team’s remarkable performance against France has reverberated throughout the football world, and their continued success in the U20 World Cup establishes them as a rising power, igniting hope and pride within their nation and inspiring a new generation of young footballers.