By Sulayman Bah
It was a delightful return to international football for Gambia after
one-year six months of absence.
Having received in CAf’s word, a deserved retribution for
‘deliberately’ running counter to football rules, Gambia’s return
could not have been much anticipated.And choosing to step into the pitch and make a mark on their return,
the Scorpions decided to have a go at Mauritania in preparation for
the CHAN – a competition in which they were shockingly eliminated by the
same Mourabitoune outfit seven years ago.
Taking the kick-off at 7pm instead of 4:30pm, Saturday’s return to
international football was not to go down without a grand touch, as
Gambian singers Baiba Babou, Jali Madi and Manding Morry entertained
the fans ahead of the commencement of the game.
As a non-World Cup qualifier team like The Gambia, Mauritania treated
the match with such seriousness calling up a number of their
foreign-based players. As opposed to the hosts whose hastily arranged
side comprised exclusively local-based players, Mauritania did not
waste any time in imposing their authority by dominating the play and
leaving the Scorpions to launch onslaughts on the counter.
Watched by a somewhat impressive spectator turnout, Bonu’s side paid
dearly for their lack of creativity in midfield. Uncompromising
display from an all-defensive oriented midfield was Gambia’s reply to
The Scorpions trotting under immense pressure couldn’t have been
luckier in the 22nd minute when an unmarked Ebou Kanteh headed the ball into an
empty net for what would be the home side’s decisive lone goal after
kamikaze defending from the Mourabitounes.
It was only then that Bonus’ charges had some possession under their
belt. Gambia’s Mass Manga had a goal disallowed by the referee.
The Mauritanians had been impressive in their play but did not get to
hand a real test to goalkeeper Christopher Allen until in the
Ismail Diakite swung in a teasing effort from the right side of the
Gambian half which the Gambia Ports Authority goalkeeper parried.
The ex-Gambia U-20 man again matched up to the resultant rebound shot.
Gambian skipper for the night Abdoulie Jatta responded with a
free-kick which hit the wood work.
The visitors applied urgency to their already flowing style and that
meant a catalogue of attempts at Allen’s goal mouth, but the Gambian
net-minder was equal to the task each time.
It was Gambia’s first win in eighteen months since it played against Tanzania in
the World Cup qualifiers.
By Sulayman Bah