By Sulayman Bah
Chances of coming back to a game for a side losing 4-0 is nearly impossible, as the Gambia got beaten at the fortress Independence Stadium, thus representing the team’s second biggest humbling in the recent past. The last time the Scorpions got mauled this way was in Germany 2010, with 5-1 and 3-0 in Banjul by Ivory Coast in 2014.
However, with the Scorpions Saturday’s decapitation by South Africa’s Go Boys comes along with it bitter lessons to learn from.
- The Scorpions lost to an improved South Africa, a side whose fires they dared in Johannesburg before rambunctious Bafana Bafana supporters. While Gambia read too much into that result, the Go Boys’ dusted themselves off, and, with funding not the least their headaches, went on to play thirteen times, most of it friendly matches. The flurry of matches offered presented chance or coach Mashaba to right the ills dogging his campaign. And, twelve months from that draw, it was no surprise of South Africa sticking the boot on Gambia who’d the weakest of preparations and had changed players close to thirty times. The Zambia friendly was hastily put forward for Sang to get glimpse of new players at his disposal. But true, it wasn’t enough.
- The rebranding and rebuilding mantra propound by Football House in the wake of Sang’s replacement of sacked Raoul Savoy was a mistiming. Setups are giving the restructuring on the sidelines with international test matches and not in competitions, as is the case with Gambia. Appointed half way into a tournament with funding barely on side, including an open door policy to test every Gambia footballer littered across the globe, last Saturday’s outcome wouldn’t shock sober minds. For any team to walk the path of success, in the modern game, demands consistency with international matches and early preparations –a thing the Scorpions’ situation barely offered.
- Now to the game, which set tongues wagging amongst even supporters and staunch critics, gaffer Ndong has so much room to conduct a surgical improvement on with his current setup. Injuries to key players namely Sulayman Marreh –ruled for the season and not expected back till July, Hamza Barry, Mustapha Carayol, Demba Savage and Kebba Ceesay, admittedly, did little to alleviate the coach’s course.
Leaving out Mamut Saine, who is beginning to secure starting spot at his Finnish club RoPS remains highly understandable. Recalling Tijan Jaiteh or Ebrima Sohna to the fill the void would bolstered the midfield. As it happened, neither of the pair –who come with leadership aura in the team – were deemed suitable, at least in the coach’s view lens.
Kabba Sambou was instead preferred who runs short of passing ideas in the heat of the moment and fidgets on the big stage. He’s by no means a bad player but his inexperience and lackadaisical work rate in midfield cost the team, rendering the very defence he should have sealed an enemy camping ground. South Africa’ Dolly Keagan glided in and out of the middle of the park with so much ease, the reason for Gambia conceding two goals at halftime. Jaiteh or Sohna’s inclusion would saved striker Bakary Njie and Bubacarr Trawally trouble of retreating back to the midfield to get balls.
- We still learn that football runs through the DNA of legendary Biri Biri Njie. So passionate was he on night of Gambia’s humiliation by South Africa that he nearly came to blows with GFF’s Abdou Salam Jammeh according to a reliable source. Commotion began at the VIP section towering little over the allotted press stadium area with Biri and Jammeh reported to have exchanged words. But the situation was soon defused after Biri was pulled away and Jammeh shifted seat