2023 AFCON: Senegal Begin Title Defence With 3-0 Win Over Gambia

Lamine Camara stole the show with a brilliant brace as Senegal roared back into their Africa Cup of Nations title defence with a dominant 3-0 victory over 10-man Gambia in Yamoussoukro on Monday.

Senegal, aiming to become the first team to retain the AFCON crown since Egypt’s three-peat (2006-2010), showed flashes of the quality that carried them to glory two years ago, despite fielding a largely new starting XI.

Youngster Camara emerged as the undisputed star, silencing Gambian hopes with a clinical double that underlined Senegal’s attacking prowess.

Gambia, already facing an uphill battle after a turbulent pre-tournament build-up, were further handicapped by Ebou Adams’s red card shortly before halftime. Despite mounting spirited challenges, they ultimately succumbed to the Lions of Teranga’s superior firepower.

Senegal asserted their dominance early, breaking the deadlock in the fourth minute through Pape Gueye’s tidy finish from Sadio Mane’s clever lay-off.

Musa Barrow’s curling free-kick almost restored parity, but the tide turned against Gambia with Adams’s reckless dismissal, leaving them vulnerable and depleted.

Edouard Mendy preserved Senegal’s lead with a fine save from Barrow, but the inevitable arrived on the hour mark as Camara coolly slotted home Ismailia Sarr’s pass.

The icing on the cake came courtesy of another stunning strike from Camara, as Iliman Ndiaye’s exquisite set-up teed up the Metz midfielder for a powerful finish from the edge of the box.

Senegal’s victory sets them atop Group C ahead of Cameroon’s clash with Guinea later today. Their next test comes against the Indomitable Lions, a daunting prospect but one they enter with renewed confidence and Camara’s dazzling display fresh in their minds.

Gambia, meanwhile, face an uphill battle to salvage their AFCON hopes after this opening setback. They take on Guinea on Friday, desperately needing a win to keep their knockout dreams alive.

While Cameroon and Guinea still pose significant threats, Senegal’s opening roar suggests they are poised to retain their continental crown. With Camara adding his name to the ranks of their attacking stars, the Lions of Teranga look hungry and ready to pounce once again.

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