The Scorpions of The Gambia on Friday registered a shocking one all draw in their first leg 2018 World Cup qualify match against the Brave Warriors of Namibia.
Despite the optimism that preceded the game, and The Scorpions’ bid to inject a new force into national football after a narrow lost to Cameroun last month in the 2017 African Cup of Nations qualifiers, the results could not but be disappointing.
The 64th minute free-kick strike of AmaZulu midfielder, Petrus Shitembi, gave the all important goal to the visitors, much to the greater disappointment of Gambian fans, who had anticipated a better result.
The Scorpions, however, hit back just six minutes remaining through Demba Savage to grab a share of the spoils.
A better result for The Gambia in the return leg on Tuesday, 13th October in Windhoek will see The Scorpions progress to the next level.
In spite of the high optimism and the huge national publicity that preceded the Gambia-Cameroun match, The Scorpions narrowly lost to the Indomitable Lions in the 2017 AFCON qualifier match.
The 65th-minute goal of Porto’s striker, Vincent Aboubakar, gave the Lions the most important goal to maintain leadership on the group with six points and two goals.
The match played at the Independence Stadium in the coastal town of Bakau, was watched by over 25, 000 spectators, the actual capacity of the country’s only national pitch.
Sunday’s game came hard on the heels of Saturday’s group encounter in Nouakchott where Mauritania shocked 10-man South Africa 3-1.
In the opening group game in June, Cameroon edged Mauritania at home 1-0 while the Gambia Scorpions held the Bafana Bafana to a goalless draw in South Africa.
That all important draw that was seen as an evolution of Gambian football at that level highly injected a great sense of optimism in both the players and the fans ahead of the game. It resulted to massive turn out of fans, filling the 25, 000 seats at the Stadium for the first time in a very long time.
The Gambians put up a respectable performance for a team like Cameroun, who were clearly on the defense line, but could not penetrate. A defensive error would cost The Scorpions and send them to a drawing board ahead of the other group matches.
“The players did very well and I am very satisfied with the performance. Even the Cameroon Coach Volke Finke admitted to me that they were lucky to win the game,” Swiss hired coach, Raoul Savoy told journalists in a post-match interview.
“It is just one mistake and they defeated us at home. We had discussed with the players in the morning before the game that the Cameroon team are experienced players and if we make mistakes, they can punish us,” he said.
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.
The Gambia Football Federation has appointed three national coaches for the U-23/CHAN, U-20 and U-17 national categories including a goal keeper trainer, a statement sent to Afrope.se correspondent Tuesday announced.
Mr Bornu Johnson, a familiar face in Gambian football, has been appointed coach for the national U-23 and local national team while Mr Omar Ceesay, a Gambian international coach with Feni Football Club in Bangladesh, takes over the national U-20 side. Mr Matarr Alieu Mboge is being assigned the national U-17 team coach, while Mr Alagie Marong takes the role as a national goalkeeper trainer for all the categories.
“Their appointments are effective 1st April, 2015 on a probation period of three months. The new coaches will work under the direct supervision of the Technical Department and the Technical Development Committee of the GFF. Their assignments, amongst others, will be for the technical implementation of all technical programmes not only limited to their said categories but to all duties and responsibilities that may be assigned to them,” read the statement.
In another development, the Gambia was playing with Mauritania in an international friendly match slated for Friday 27th March, 2015 at the Independence Stadium in Bakau at 7:00pm.
The Gambia played with Mauritania and defeated it by a goal to nil. It was scored by Striker Mustapha Njie of Bombada FC in the 23rd minutes of the first half. It was the first international game for The Gambia in nearly two years.
“The friendly match has been arranged between the two Football Federations to technically prepare their national sides for imminent CAF Competitions. The friendly will be the first for the Gambia after a year of international absence. In this vein, the Technical and Development Committee of the GFF has selected Mr Peter Bornu Johnson and Mr Matarr Mboge to select and prepare the team for the said friendly,” it concluded.
Plans are afoot to welcome The Gambia’s acclaimed international referee, who made history earlier this year after being voted the ‘Best African Referee of the Year 2014’, the Gambia Football Federation (GFF) announced Wednesday.
Bakary Papa Gassama, who officiated at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil last year and won the Confederation of African Football award during the Glo-Awards in Lagos, Nigeria, is expected back in the country at the end of the African Cup of Nations Finals in Equatorial Guinea. “The Gambia Football Federation (GFF) is pleased to announce that it will formally organise a welcoming ceremony for its Referee, Bakary Papa Gassama, who is currently in Equatorial Guinea at the Africa Cup of Nations Finals,” affirmed a release copied to Afrope.se Banjul correspondent.
“While acclaiming his contribution in African and World Football, the GFF executive, therefore, deems it fitting to give Papa a befitting and gracious welcoming ceremony. The welcoming ceremony will be coordinated by a sub-committee set up by the GFF, headed by Second Vice President Mr. Ebou Faye. The general public, loved ones, friends and well-wishers of Bakary Papa Gassama and all Football and sports lovers are urged to turn out en-mass for the welcoming formalities”.
Gassama came to prominence in 2007 when he was appointed by the global football governing body as its referee. Since then, he has officiated in numerous high-level international games. Chief among them was African Champions League final last year; the 2013 decider between Al Ahly from Egypt and Orlando Pirates from South Africa; refereed in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup earlier this month and so on.
Gassama was also voted as one of the seven best referees by Fifa’s Referees Committee at 2014 Summer World Cup in Brazil.
Africa’s football governing body, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has lifted the two-year universal football ban it imposed on The Gambia earlier this year, following the latter’s decision to field in over aged players during its match against Liberia in the Under 20 youth championship qualifies, thegambia.nu has gathered.
“The news is very good, yesterday (Thursday) I had the opportunity to speak to the Technical director of CAF and he informed me that the two-year ban imposed on The Gambia is officially lifted,” announced the new president of the Gambia Football Federation (GFF), Lamin Kaba Bajo during an interview he granted to the Daily Observer Friday.
It came four months after the country was slapped with a two-year suspension from all levels of CAF competition after the continent’s ruling body found them guilty of age cheating. The ban had ripped The Gambia of the right to contest the qualifiers for the 2015 African Nations Cup as well as its clubs for the Champions League and Confederation Cup competitions in 2015 and 2016. The five who were reported to be over age are Sampierre Mendy, Buba Sanneh, Bubacarr Trawally, Saloum Fall and Ali Sowe. They were all found to be older than the cut-off year of 1995 after they took part in a qualifier against Liberia on April 6th.
The news will no doubt be received with great joy and relief among Gambian fans taking into consideration the shock and embarrassment the country was plunged into after the imposition of the universal ban. Since then, the issue has become the topic of football politics in The Gambia, fuelling divisions and losing of confidence in people who matter in the administration of football in the country. The status quo led to the dissolution of the Mustapha Kebbeh-led executive, ushering in a new Normalisation Committee appointed by the world football governing body, FIFA. The near-two month normalisation process culminated into the election of a career Gambian diplomat, Lamin Kaba Bajo during an extra ordinary congress held this month.
Göteborgs gambian cultural week gick av stapeln i helgen och Thegambia.nu besökte tillställningen under lördagseftermiddagen, då det bjöds på fotboll ute i Hjällbo.
Årets kulturvecka i Göteborg låg inplanerad lite tidigare än vanligt, vilket beror på muslimernas högtid Ramadan, som infaller mitt under semester- och sommarledigheten i år.
Hos oss på thegambia.nu har ni tidigare kunnat läsa om helgens upplägg. Vi valde att besöka fotbollseventet ute i Hjällbo. Just fotbollen är den del av Göteborgs kulturvecka som är öppen för hela familjen, gammal som ung, och det uppskattas ofta väldigt mycket av både barn, ungdomar och äldre. Det säljs mat och dryck för den som blir hungrig eller bara lite sugen på t ex grillat kött. Är man mest intresserad av att umgås och träffa vänner man inte ser så ofta så är denna stunden ett alldeles ypperligt tillfälle för det också. För barnen finns härliga utrymmen att springa av sig på och leka och för de fotbollstokiga är det givetvis match nere på planen som gäller.
I år var det endast Stockholm som kommit med fotbollsspelare för att möta göteborgarna och göra upp om bästa stad. Oturligt nog hade Stockholm själva inte ett fullt lag att ställa upp med, så Göteborg fick låna ut några av sina egna spelare för att en match med två fulltaliga lag skulle kunna spelas.
Som publik kunde jag inte låta bli att undra hur göteborgarna egentligen tänkte i valet av spelare att lämna på lån, då de mer eller mindre gav bort vinsten. Jag vill hävda att de lät ett par av sina bästa spelare gå över till Stockholms-sidan. Stockholm vann matchen med 5-1 och fyra av de fem målen gjordes av göteborgare..
Förutom fotboll pågick två olika fester i helgen, men någon närmare rapport från dessa aktiviteter har vi tyvärr inte här på tidningen.
Nu inväntar vi Stockholmsveckan och hoppas kunna bjuda på lite smått och gott därifrån också framöver.