By Sulayman Bah
Ousman Jallow and Momodou Ceesay were the notably absentees in a
provisional roster of 21 invited foreign-based Gambian stars revealed last week Thursday.
Jallow is unfit after picking a hamstring injury and isn’t expected to recuperate fully till next month while Zico is on the path of raking up minutes having spent close to a month also sidelined.Together they have lit up fans hopes, become senior team mainstays and
struck up a fearsome partnership- a link that gelled from their days
at Wallidan to U-17 internationals. The thought of the duo not playing
a part against South Africa –one of Group M’s heavyweights –sends
pulse racing and worry fans.
Making their loss less severe, a batch of new faces –largely uncapped
players – have been summoned as potential replacements. But questions
whether these untested stars can live up to the billing continue to
linger, understandably, due to sketchy available details about their
scoring pedigrees. Foroyaa Sport gives a lowdown into their goal
Macoumba Kandji: After a series of attempts without success to have
him switch his allegiance to Gambia, the possibility of Kandji finally
sporting the Scorpion jersey is looking more a reality this year than
ever. Born to a Gambian mother and a Senegalese father, Macoumba will
be one of the new faces to be relied on to fill voids created by Ous
and Zico’s absence. Comfortable either as a main striker or a
secondary one, the 28-year-old is a tall order. His trade mark
showboating and explosive speed were invaluable in winning HJK the
Finnish league title and qualifying the capital club to the Europa
League for the first time. He will be counted on to bring to the fore
such an amour and spark it where it’s most needed – against South
Africa. In his eighth season as a professional footballer, the
erstwhile Manchester City transfer target has scored 24 goals in 164
cameos for seven different clubs from the U.S, Greece, Finland and now
Saudi Arabia. Experience remains a gargantuan plus to lead Gambia’s
front line and Kandji isn’t lacking any of that. Measuring 1.93cm in
height, there’s expected to be no missing of Zico in Macoumba Kandji.
Pa Amat Dibba: With Mustapha Carayol, Demba Savage, Modou Barrow and
the addition of Pa Amat Dibba, explosive runs won’t be for sure in
short supply. Dibba is one of the most covered foreign-based and is a
joy to watch. His goals propelled Sundsvall to the Swedish Premier
League amassing 12 goals as the fourth highest scorer of the second
tier the previous term. With a combined 23 goals since joining
Sundsvall in 2011 out of 93 appearances, Dibba’s eye for goal is
showing no sign of tailing off. His call-up to the squad ranks will
only do good to Gambia’s push qualification to Gabon.
Saihou Jagne: Pace remains a weapon even at 28. The ex-AIK Solna man
boasts of four club medals in his trophy cabinet and is shifting to
international football only now. He’s the only called up striker
playing fifth division football in Sweden. Netting a career eighteen
goals, Jagne still considers himself a potent and accepting turning
international with Gambia is evidence of his never-dwindling
self-belief. A master in his own right for scoring with tap-ins or at
his best, ballooning from long distances, Turkish top tier side
Gaziantepspor did not make a €200,000 offer for his services in 2009
without a reason.
Assan Ceesay: He would be making his third appearance for the national
team after debuting for the local-based in Monrovia and more recently
against Tanzania in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers. With a number of
Caf Confederation Cup and Wafu Cup appearances under his belt, the
lanky 22-year-old, tied to Senegalese club Casa Sport on loan, can be
a danger-man on his day. Physic might be his weakness but Ceesay can
pull off surprises and knows the goal-post well.
Omar Jagne: A fast improving striker, Omar is turning a revered player
to Dalkurd fans. Playing in the Swedish third division and sibling to
Njogu Demba, he’s one of the new faces gracing the internationals but
must his way to gaffer Raoul Savoy’s thinking to be considered a
starting spot. He scored seven goals last year his biggest goal tally
for Dalkurd since switching from fourth division outfit Falu.
With all these names at Gambia’s disposal, new coach Savoy will be
spoiled for choice.
By Sulayman Bah