By Sulayman Bah
The winger who trades his services with Premier League hopeful Middlesbrough FC over the weekend announced his allegiance to the Gambia voicing readiness to join the Scorpions; campaign for a spot in Gabon 2017.
The news, revealed in a one-on-one discussing his internal future with the BBC, has been received with delight with newspapers’ back pages full of it.
But much of the delight comes from the country’s Football House who had seen two attempts to lure the erstwhile Bristol City and Torquay United wing-man shunned.
The 26-year-old who‘d spent over a year sidelined through an injury before resuming professional football this month was first invited by the then GFA in 2008 but opted to focus on club football.
Undeterred, the football federation again made an overture sending an invitation to Mustapha’s club –as is the norm –seeking for release of the player for international duty.
But like the previous bid, the second one caused a stir this time on a different tone with the Boro forward claiming he had not been informed of any invitation. The GFF insisted a letter was sent.
In spite of the fuss triggered by the row between club and country, there was renewed sense of hope, in reference to the player’s change of tone, that Carayol could sport Gambia’s colours at least before hanging up his boots and when the ex-MK Dons recruit made public his intentions switching his allegiance to his country of birth, the news was one greeted with raptures.
‘I think it’s been a long time coming, I’ve had a few times when they’ve invited me but it wasn’t the right time for myself and my family,” Carayol told BBC Africa Sport.
And speaking of Carayol, GFF’s Ebou Faye told Foroyaa Sport yesterday: ‘He is a good addition to the team. He will add quality to the team. With players like him, we will have a very good team,’
Mustapha, grandson to Gambia IEC chairman Mustapha Carayol senior, will be one of the players fans will be counting on as Gambia attempts to break a long standing hoodoo of being non-Afcon Qualifier County.
Meanwhile, Foroyaa Sport understands, Carayol wouldn’t be the only new addition to the Gambia squad with Norwegian born defender Kristian Brix, Seejou King of Sporting Lisbon and Malaysia-based Muhamed Sumareh all expected to feature.
Kekuta Manneh was touted to join last year but his case remains an elusive one after he and Modou Barrow refused ruling out playing for the US and Sweden respectively.
Gambia is in Group M of the qualifiers with South Africa, Cameroon and Mauritania.