A new foreign coach has been unveiled by football authorities in The Gambia to take charge of the country’s national team, The Scorpions, filling a vacuum that had been left vacant since the annulment of the contract of the previous holder, Peter Bonu Johnson.
Raoul Savoy, a Swiss-Spaniard, was unveiled Thursday at the Football House in Kanifing by the top brass of the Gambia Football Federation as well as officials of the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
The UEFA A License coach had applied alongside 19 others before his named was put in the last three for government to approve the most competent.
His appointment was a culmination of months of vetting by the football authorities in their bid to entrust in the hands of a good manager, the management of the senior national. But Savoy’s appointment also put a close to the months of speculations and debates over the issue of the timely appointment of a national coach given the little time the country has had to prepare for the 2017 African Cup Nations qualifiers. The Gambia, drawn in Group M alongside South Africa, Mauritania and Cameroun, is back on international football after an age cheating ban ended last year.
The Gambia will travel to South Africa in June to take on the host in the first leg before a return leg will be played in Banjul weeks later. The foreign players are expected to camp in Banjul on 1 June before they travel to Uganda for a training camp.
Savoy, who has some degree of experience in African football seems well aware of the task placed on his shoulder, but he and his employers appeared cautious with how much job can be delivered to the Gambians.
Speaking after being unveiled, Savoy, 42, said he will do his best to deliver to the Gambian people.
“I am appreciative of this opportunity to serve as the national team coach of The Gambia,” he said. ”It’s a big duty for me, and I can assure you I will do my best for the Gambian people who love their football so much.”
“The assistants have already started. I am just going to continue from there. I want to seek the support of the press because now your role has become very important in the world of football. I know that with all the support, we can do something good in the near future,” he said.
The coach said he is well prepared for the task ahead and had started his work in earnest moment he applied for the country’s top coaching job.
Savoy said a lot of friendly matches will be required in order to improve the status of the country’s football.
“Football is my life; it is my job. When I started to apply for the job, I had already started two months ago to work on Gambian players,” he said.
Football Federation president, Lamin Kaba Bajo, described the unveiling as a momentous one and said he was satisfied with the credentials of the new coach.
“He has the highest qualification among all the applicants. He has coached in Central, East and Northern African countries. We are not disappointed in him during our first interaction with him that he can integrate easily,” Bajo said.
The FF top executive said they could only have a realistic expectation from the coach given that the long-term goal is to build a structure that will produce a team capable of competing in all future games.
Bajo praised his executive committee and the government through the Ministry of Youth and Sports for all the hard work behind the scenes, leading to this development.
The executive director of the National Sports Council (NSC), Marcel Mendy, speaking on behalf of the minister, said Savoy was the best the country could afford to fill this vacuum. He spoke highly of the new coach in injecting a new force into the country’s football.
More about the coach
Raoul Savoy, born 18 May 1973, is a Swiss football coach. He was the head coach of FC Sion until June 2014. He was one-time the head coach of the senior national team of the Central African Republic.
Holder of UEFA coaching Diplomas (UEFA – A Licence Scottish Football Association and Swiss FA), his career began with Tonnerre Yaoundé in Cameroon from 2002 to 2003 and he was runner-up of the 2002 CAF Cup. He later spent six seasons in Morocco with each, COD Meknes and SCC Mohammédia and IR Tanger (2003-2006). He also managed two senior national teams, Ethiopia (2006-2007) and Swaziland (2007-2008).
Meanwhile, the GFF released a 21-man squad composed of foreign based players, most of them to play for the country for the first time. Among them include Middlesbrough’s Mustapha Carayol, Swansea City’s Modou Barrow, and Pa Dembo Touray of Santo FC in South Africa.