The Maurabitones of Mauritania Wednesday secured a shock 2-0 win over the Scorpions of The Gambia in the first of a double header friendly international played at a far from full Independence Stadium in Bakau.
A goal either side of the break from Abdoullah Gueye and Ismaila Diakite proved the difference between the two sides. The two sides will face off again on Saturday for the second game.
The Scorpions featured three foreign-based players in the match -Captain Dawda Bah and Tijan Jaiteh in midfield and Abdou T-Boy Jammeh in defence.
The Mauritanians, coached by well travelled Frenchman Patrice Nouvou executed their game plan to perfection and were better than their Gambian hosts in all departments, a fact admitted by the vice chairman and spokesperson of the Normalisation Committee of the Gambia Football Association.
"The boys [The Scorpions] played very well in some parts by winning the battle in midfield but the Mauritanians were tactically better than us. I think they [Scorpions] need to improve their play on the final third [of the pitch] if they want to do better in the next match," Sey told reporters after the match.
The Gambians started the better side and after squandering a couple of decent half-chances to take the lead, the Maurabitones broke the deadlock in the 27th minute against the run of play. Gueye was played through by Captain Musa Baghayoko on the break to poke home the opener.
Mauritania were the better side from that point and they were denied an opportunity to extend their lead in the 40th minute when a player was brought down in the box, but Gambian referee Bakary Camara waved play to continue. They had two other strong penalty calls turned down in the second period; the second one when T-Boy clearly handled the ball while on the ground before goalkeeper Christopher Allen could gather.
Ismaila Diakite's pace had wreaked havoc on the Gambian defence in the first half and he was at his devastating best in the 49th minute when he beat the Scorpions defenders before rounding off keeper Allen to side foot home the winner.
Speaking after the final whistle, Captain Dawda Bah told reporters that he was surprised by the scoreline and said they could have done better with the goals that they conceded. "It was a surprise to me and even the goals that they scored were our mistake but we have to learn from that and I think everything will be ok for the future," he said.
Despite the defeat, the former Banjul Hawks, KPV Kokkola, HJK Helsinki and FC Augsburg midfielder believes the future is bright for the home-based lads. "I think they are doing great and everything is going to be okay," he added.