By Sulayman Bah
Emerging playmaker Mamut Saine has opened up for the first time over reason for turning down Football House’s requests to play for the Gambia senior national team.
The former Seaview Football Club ace was one of the players invited by the federation under the tenure of sacked Raoul Savoy and current gaffer Sang Ndong.
Saine was initially offered a call-up just after he was voted the best foreign midfielder in Greece’s second tier and thus one of big-name players tipped to beef up the scorpions set up at commencement of the African Cup of Nations for Gabon. He was even mentioned in the finalised roster bearing names of confirmed players coming for the Cameroon and Namibia first-leg fixtures.
The ex-Gambia U-20 sensation however didn’t feature in those duels and his failure to even travel from Helsinki to Banjul had riffed unconfirmed reports suggesting he might have fallen out with national team coaches or just decided against feeling unloved.
But Saine has opened up for the first on the issue telling Foroyaa Sport: ‘It’s true that I’m been invited for some games while not coming due to several personal reasons and injuries. But ofcourse I’m a Gambian like all those Gambians [players] so if I’m needed and by then I’m fine [without injuries] surely I will show up and represent my beloved country,’
In his absence though he’d been keeping track of developments with the national team who are yet to win a game and bottom of the group in five outings, managing only two in possible fifteen points.
‘For the national team results, I used to follow the games. But the results are not the best we all wish for. Hopefully things will change for the better soon,’ he says.
Europa League debut
January 2015, Mamut Saine was not anywhere near playing in a European Cup but one-year six months on he’d attained dream of playing at least in the Europa League – Europe’s second most prestigious club competition.
Having been made to wait for his league debut two months after joining Finnish Premier League side RoPS, it has been without doubt a pothole-filled journey for the 22-year-old.
Arriving as a near marquee signing albeit he had to take some trialing for the side to sign him, Mamut was forced to take a spectator role bit away from the pitch and on the treatment table having come from Greece with an injury.
The setback meant delay in the player’s push for a starting role with the first team. As the case with rapid progression from injury, the midfielder recuperated and is all consideration for selection by club gaffer Malinen.
His recovery is welcomed news for club faithful as Saine went from a league doubt with injuries to realizing dream of playing in Europe’s prestigious competition –the Europa League. He got trusted from start in both legs as RoPS dumped Republic of Ireland top flight side Shamrock Rovers on 3-1 aggregate to seal passage to the second round play-offs.
‘I came with an injury which delayed my progress and also the other problem was the weather, its too cold here but now thank God I’m fully recovered from all those [things] and I’m available anytime the manager needs me [now],’ the erstwhile Fokikos and AO Chania tells Foroyaa Sport from his apartment in Rovaniemi, Finland.
‘Personally, I want to give my best and help my teammates and the club achieve their target which we all know,’ he says.
‘The Europa league is always a dream for every player to play in there and it was really a good atmosphere and intense game. It was really nice to be featured in these games and looking forward to help my team to progress to the groupings Insha’ Allah (God-willing).
Up next for RoPS is a must-win clash with Croatian giants Lokomotiva Zagreb this Thursday 4:00pm local time in Helsinki.
Likened to Argentine retired footballer and ex-Barcelona midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme, Mamut was rested on Sunday in the 2-1 win over sixth-placed Inter-Turku.