Gambia's home-based Scorpions Saturday held the Palancas Negras of Angola to a 1-1 draw in a friendly international game played in Benguala, about 45 minutes flight from the Angolan capital Luanda.
The 35000-seater stadium was one of the venues that hosted the 2012 African Cup of Nations and despite dominating play in front of a sell-out crowd with the opponents playing a man short for over 75 minutes, the home side could only score from the penalty spot in the first half before Saloum Faal scored to ensure parity in the second half.
Just 13 minutes into the game, the Scorpions were reduced to ten men after Gambia Ports Authority defender Foday Saidy parried away a goal bound effort with his hand. The referee didn't hesitate to dish out a straight red card to the right back having already awarded a penalty kick. Amadio Felipe Dacosta converted from the resulting spot-kick giving the Gambian keeper Modou Jobe no chance.
The early setback and numerical disadvantage forced the Gambian technicians into a tactical reshuffle with Antou Badjan brought in to strengthen the defence while Modou Jallow moved to replace the substituted Modou Lamin Sawo just behind Hamza Barry in attack.
Having bamboozled stand in captain Abdou Jammeh, Angola's Brazilian based forward Adriano Nicolaus was disposed by defender Emanuel Gomez with a last ditch tackle as he tried to pull the trigger before the striker missed the target with a glancing header that went wide moments later.
As the clock ticked towards the interval, T-Boy was again sluggish in play and his sloppy back pass was intercepted by an opposing attacker who forced a finger tip save from Modou Jobe at the Gambian goal for a corner. Jobe was brilliant in a half entirely dominated by the Angolans.
The Gambians were forced into another substitution after the break with keeper Modou Jobe replaced by Christopher Allen after the former complained of a stiff neck while Dawda Sissoho also replaced Ousman Sillah whose performance on the night was abysmal. Hamza Barry was the star upfront but some amazing runs from him often times was thwarted by the more experienced Angolan defenders.
In the 72nd minute though, the Gambian side was given a lifeline after they scored to ensure parity. It came almost out of nothing. Substitute keeper Christopher Allen sent in a long ball up field that dropped between two Angolan defenders and caused a little bit of confusion in the area and Saloum Faal capitalised to slot home the rebound by his GPA team-mate.
The home side launched attack after attack at the Gambian side in order to rescue a win but their efforts were thwarted by the maverick Demba Sanyang and Bakau United's Amat Njie in midfield.
Speaking from a post-match press conference at the end of the game, Gambia's Italian born coach Luciano Mancini said his local-based team need to be commended for putting up a brave performance against the African Cup of Nations finalists.