By Sulayman Bah
When Modou Barrow climbed off the substitutes’ bench to make his Premier league debut against Arsenal,fans in Gambia went bonkers.
From the whistle go, the youngster did not look back putting in a dazzling performance that helped turn the tables around in Swansea City’s favour. He since then remained on the lips of passionate football followers back in his country of birth.
He never got on the score sheet in the duel against Arsene Wenger’s troops nor indiscriminately bamboozled markers as would Brazil’s Ronaldo; but his direct runs to create space made him target of adulations from the Swedish press, who intrigued, are expecting a young Barrow to switch allegiance and represent Sweden.
The situation now leaves the Gambia Football Federation having to pull off all convincing tricks including promise of heaven to turn the lad’s head around.
But after 21-year-old Barrow basked to prominence –the first Gambian-born to grace the English Premier League – Foroyaa Sport makes a low down of top ten most promising Gambian starlets in Europe.
Solomon Sambou: This publication first ran a story about the Churchill’s Town-born late in 2012. He is capable of breaking up attacks, composed on the ball, physically imposing with an unfaltering determination.
The 19-year-old’s attributes lend credit to his role as a holding /central midfielder.Sambou has the fighting zeal never lacking in African players – a characteristic that gives credence to his nickname Sol, the Enforcer.He’d starred series of times for relegated premier League club Fulham Football Club U-21s. It will require GFF technical department to act fast or risk facing another Barrow-like scenario with England U-19 scouts already lurking around the Gambian.
Hassane Kamara: Featured in our sport page umpteen times, the 20-year-old is a midfielder from Gambia trading his services with French Ligue 2 outfit BL Chateauroux. Signed up to a professional deal in March, the left-footed midfielder made the grades from the club’s robust youth setup to the A-team. With the usual storyline that goes with migrants searching pastures new,Kamara’s parent’s departed Gambia for France. The migration would eventually help redefine the youngster’s ambition to kick the round object as BLC comes calling. He’d appeared already ten times this term and played a leading role in the club’s dramatic relegation escape to the third tier last campaign.
Omar Njie: The 18-year-old is a centre-back with German Bundeliga outfit FSV Mainz.Already trying to outlive the hype thrown at him, the ace made the grades from the U-17 to the club’s U-18s. He has been included recently in Mainz’s pre-season matches before start of the current season which goes to show the club’s regard for the player considered one for the future. Another Gambian in Germany is Bibie Njie in Hamburg’s U-19s.
Seejou King: Born to a Gambian in Hvidore, Denmark, his name may sound little peculiar. However, Seejou is one product on the rise. Recruited from Danish top flight club Nordsjælland –whom he’d raked in the minutes for– the 22-year-old defender now mixes it with Cristiano Ronaldo’s first employers Sporting Lisbon. Pushed to the reserves and his loan deal made permanent till 2016. King sets his sight on the circles of the A team. He had said he wouldn’t blink when an invitation from the GFF rocks his desk.
Modou Cham: A complete striker in-the-making, a current Blackburn Rovers youth product.
Mo is not your usual finish marquee marksman but is feverishly commanding plaudits and is no stranger to being fast-tracked for cover in the A team when injuries take their toll. He’s currently promoted to the Rovers U-21s scoring thrice so far. 18-year-old Cham –not be mistaken for Gambian capped Belgian-born Modou Kabba-Cham – can be a constant menace on his day.
SaidyJanko: Gambians often get tapped by Manchester United but none, from Arthur Gomez to Joshua King, have gone up to the first team. But Janko, a Swiss-born to a Gambian father is walking the talk and in Red Devils’ coach AVG, renowned for his unquestionable penchant for promoting youth players, Saidy could realize his dream. His father revealed the player’s plans to play for Gambia in 2011 while with Zurich under 17s. A current Switzerland youth international, the 19-year-old is still eligible to play for Gambia.
Kristian Brix:Capped and scored in the Uefa Cup now Europa League, Brix is an established defender age 24. He played with Gambia international Tijan Jaiteh for two years and captained Sandefjord in the Norwegian second tier. Born to a Gambian dad and Norwegian mother, Kristian first burst to the scene in 2007 with Valerengabut in search for more minutes, left the Norwegian champions for Sandefjord following a loan spell at Sogndal. He’s tied to Bodo/Glimit making him the only eligible Gambian in Norway’s premier league with Gambian export. Tijan dropping level after relegation flirtations all season can field as a left-winger or left-back and is consistent.
Muhamed Keita: Another 24-year-old winger.Won the Norwegian premier league last year for Stromgodset prior to joining Kebba Ceesay at Lech Poznan. Experienced in the Europa League qualifiers. He’s renowned for his blistering pace silky runs.
Bakary Kambi Njie: A product of Real Valladolid but later signed for Espanyol and four months after penning a deal was offered a ten minute La Liga debut. Disillusioned by lack of playing time, the powerful attacker decided to move to the Segund B (Spanish third division) with Hospitalite. A transfer to Bulgaria followed after finishing fourth highest goal-getter in the Segunda B inking the dotted lines with Chernomore. Currently hampered by an ankle injury picked up at the onset of the Bulgarian championship, he netted eleven times last term.
Pa Amat Dibba: On a goal haul of eleven, Dibba has addressed his profligacy in front of goal this term. The 26-year-old helped tremendously in Sundsvall’s promotion to the top division. Dibba has told this publication he’s willing to don the red, blue and white of Gambia when called up.
Pa Konate of Malmo and Kekuta Manneh made up the list too.