Senegal vs Gambia first goalscorer prediction: Will Mane open his AFCON account?

This Senegal vs Gambia first goalscorer prediction guide looks at the latest odds for the first goalscorer in this opening Group C match, followed by our call as to whose odds represent the best value.

Senegal come into the 2023 finals with the added pressure of being the reigning champions, having won their first-ever AFCON in 2021. The West African nation are one of the leading favourites overall, and manager Aliou Cissé has a strong squad to choose from.

In Gambia, Senegal will face an inexperienced first opponent. Gambia made their AFCON debut in 2021, but they exceeded all expectations by progressing to the quarter-finals, before losing to Cameroon.

Senegal are expected to control this opening match, and could create plenty of chances for a fearsome frontline. That said, Gambia have their own attacking threats, which have netted seven goals in four previous matches, so some decent goalscorer picks are available from the Scorpions’ ranks too. 

Can Senegal retain their AFCON title? – Photo by Icon Sport

Senegal vs Gambia first goalscorer odds

Sadio Mane (4/1)

Senegal's captain and AFCON 2021 Player of the Tournament, Mane has found form at Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr this season, with 12 goals in 26 matches in all competitions since switching from Bayern Munich. The forward also netted three goals in his final four club matches before departing for AFCON duty.

On the international stage, Mane has been in top form recently, striking five goals in his last six. This purple patch includes two braces in an impressive Senegalese 4-2 win against Brazil and South Sudan in the World Cup qualifiers.

Eight AFCON goals from 18 appearances is a solid return for the Senegal captain in this competition as well. He will surely be looking to add to that quota with a fast start against a Gambia defence that conceded eight goals in their last four matches. 

Can Sadio Mane get Senegal off the mark? – Photo by Icon Sport

Nicolas Jackson (9/2)

Up-and-coming striker Nicolas Jackson has secured a starting role at Chelsea and notched eight goals in a solid first half of the campaign. But the 22-year-old has struggled to hold down a first-team spot for Senegal.

Jackson has made just six appearances for the Lions of Teranga, and has not scored an international goal yet. The striker could well be Cisse’s secret weapon from the bench in potentially cagey matches.  

Pape Matar Sarr (16/1)

Usually considered a solid, reliable midfield player, Papa Matar Sarr has goalscoring potential that could get Senegal off the mark. 

The Spurs midfielder has scored some well-taken goals in the Premier League this season and he hit the net in a 3-1 over Bournemouth before joining Senegal for the AFCON.

Preferred in the end-to-end midfield role by Cisse, late runs into the penalty area and edge of the box could provide a good hunting ground for potential Sarr goals against Gambia. 

Pape Matar Sarr has goalscoring potential from midfield – Photo by Icon Sport

Assan Ceesay (18/1)

Gambia’s all-time leading goalscorer Assan Ceesay should provide the main outlet against Senegal. With 13 goals in 39 international appearances, Ceesay has demonstrated consistent goalscoring potential too.

Where the chances come from will be the big question for Ceesay and his Gambian teammates. But a quick break and Ceesay cannot be ruled out in the AFCON opener against Senegal. 

Ablie Jallow (20/1)

Just behind Ceesay in the all-time Gambian goalscoring records is winger Ablie Jallow. The Metz forward has seven goals in 25 internationals and hit some decent form in the AFCON qualifiers with two goals in four starts.

Jallow also enters the 2023 AFCON having scored twice in his last five starts in Ligue 1 with Metz. The Gambian winger certainly has the potential to upset the Senegalese defence early on in their AFCON clash.

Senegal AFCON 2023 odds
Current outright odds for Senegal show they are heavily fancied to go far.

Senegal vs Gambia first goalscorer prediction – our pick

With Jackson's place in the starting XI subject to doubt, It's impossible to look beyond Mane as the sensible pick. Current average odds of 4/1 are on the generous side in our opinion, and with Senegal commanding some promising outright prices, that ‘generosity' may not last beyond matchday one.

Will Sadio Mane score vs Gambia? – Other player betting markets

  • Sadio Mane to score anytime vs Gambia: 6/4
  • Mane to score 2+ goals: 9/1
  • Mane to score a hat-trick: 40/1

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Alex Waite

Alex is a freelance sports writer with experience writing digital news, blogs, features, exlcusive interviews and SEO. He has a keen interest and knowledge of UK and European football, ATP and WTA tennis, cricket and boxing.