After both racking up the points against New Zealand and going
down to an impressive-looking Mexico side, Portugal and Gambia now
go head-to-head for a guaranteed place in the last sixteen. Having
passed up a hatful of chances in their opening-game defeat to
El Tricolor, the African side broke their goalscoring duck
against New Zealand with a 22nd-minute header from Ousman Jallow.
That strike proved enough to secure the Baby Scorpions their first
victory at a FIFA U-20 World Cup finals.
Portugal v Gambia, Montreal, 9 July, 17.15 (local time)
With Mexico already through to the next stage, this game will decide who qualifies directly alongside them. A win for either side puts them through, while a draw should see both teams progress. Were either team to lose, they would have to rely on results from the other groups going their way. With a current goal difference of +1, however, Portugal have a good chance of advancing even on the back of a narrow defeat.
Portugal's Fabio Coentrao is suspended after picking up two yellow cards. Mano, Pele and Zequinha are all on one booking and would miss the Lusitanians' next game should they pick up another. Gambia are at full strength, with Alagie Ngum and Ousman Jallow the only two players walking the suspension tightrope.
This is Gambia's first appearance at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, and their first encounter with a European side at this level. At the FIFA U-17 World Championship Peru 2005, where many of the squad here in Canada were in action, they were beaten 2-0 by the Netherlands. Portugal have never drawn a game against African opposition at the U-20 showpiece event, winning twice (1-0 and 2-0 against Nigeria in 1989) and losing twice (2-0 to Ghana in 1993 and 2-1 to Mali in 1999).
"This defeat (against Mexico) isn't easy to swallow, but we have to refocus and prepare ourselves for the last group game against Gambia. We've still got everything to play for." Bruno Gama, Portugal playmaker.