By Sulayman Bah
The appointment and unveiling of the 41-year-old at the Football House headquarters in Kanifing brings to an end months of speculations over the Scorpions managerial job.
This hiring of the Swiss-born coach, on a two-year deal, kick-starts the country’s campaign in preparation of the continental qualifiers after months of anxiety waiting for a coach to be named.
Facing the Gambian press for the first time, hours after his appointment, the erstwhile Xamax Nuechatel and Ethiopia coach, brimming with confidence, said “I am honoured to be Gambia’s national team coach and I appreciate the opportunity given to be the coach.”
On the state of preparedness, Savoy said “I found that work has already been put in place. They (the executive) have done a good job to set things on track. Now I will just be coming to start work with them.”
Recently, the players have been complaining about the lateness in the appointment of a national coach. But the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MOYS), which bankrolls the coach, insists that the appointment is better done late than never.
“He’s the best we can afford. It’s better late than never. He has experience and credentials,” said Marcel Mendy, the Executive Director of the National Sports Council, who was deputizing MOYS.
Explaining the procedure culminating to Savoy’s ascension to the managerial helm of the Gambia’s national team, Abdoulie Jallow, a GFF top brass, revealed that over fifteen coaches have applied for the vacancy and which led to the selection of the Swiss national after a thorough scrutiny of their credentials.
For his part, GFF’s supremo Lamin Kabba Bajo said Savoy’s coaching stints from around Africa and his knowledge about Gambian players were factors considered by the selecting committee and which landed the Swiss-born the job.
Meanwhile, the new man tasked to lead Gambia Scorpions have until early June to put up a formidable side before tussling South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in Johannesburg in the first-leg.
Over 21 players, most of whom are uncapped at the international level, have been summoned for training with some yet to be released by their respective clubs or confirm their availability.
June 1st is the set date for players to converge in Banjul before the contingent leaves for the Ugandan capital Kampala for camping. The Scorpions, while in East Africa, according to the itinerary, will be playing with Uganda’s Cranes possibly on 9th June, days ahead of the S/A encounter.
Set targets are usually agreed in contracts for coaches to achieve within a specified duration, but for Savoy, according to Martin Gomez and Star Jallow yesterday, he is assigned to build up a team for future competitions.
Raoul Savoy is Gambia’s second foreign coach in two years, following Luciano Mancini’s resignation in 2013.