By Sulayman Bah
The 28-year-old has been on a self- imposed exile. The skillful striker had a boisterous season in 2012 clutching the Belgium League second highest scorer on 19 goals while with OH Leuven.
Those glittering moments were spiced by a call-up to Gambian squad. But with a gargantuan of interests from Europe leading clubs including Bayer Leverkusen, Utrecht and St Etienne, the dribbling centre forward opted against featuring for Gambia to focus on his budding club career.
Sawaneh had been far too patient with Gambia coaches beginning with Paul Put who handed him his first international debut. Fresh from banging 20-plus goals in Belgian second tier, the Serrekunda-born was touted to make it straight into Scorpions line up. But to fans’ amazement, he was overlooked against Liberia making his debut only against Senegal in 2008.
The bit-part role he was forced to endure ended only in Mexico 5-1 friendly whitewash of Gambia in Germany where he played for the first time 90 minutes in Scorpions colours.
Against Algeria at home 2011, the former Lech Poznan forward cut a desolate figure as he watched from the bench without minutes with Momodou Ceesay, Ousman Jallow and Mustapha Jarju preferred in attack
Following end of that acrimonious game, Ibou did not look back choosing to stay away for three years –seven months.
But at a 20-minute briefing yesterday, Ibou’s name ticked as among the invited 24-players, offering him chance of a return. He was on the peripheries recently resuming training, according to reports, only last Thursday. He’d been on the goal chart in pre-season before injury blighted him. Out of five games played so far the Scorpion has featured only ten minutes coming on from the bench against Anderlecht.
Among those on the roster of surprise inclusions are US-based Futty Danso and Sainey Nyassi who now are second division players. Nyassi of Edmonton last played for the squad in 2010 against Burkina Faso whilst a New England Revolution player.
Futty who’d made no secret of his intentions to retire from internationals got a surprise call-up. He’d been a regular in Gambia’s defence since debuting against the Burkinabes and was only snubbed in the tie against South Africa.
China-based and 14-goal Bubacarr Trawally got a deserved call-up and is expected to fight for starting place in the forward line with an experienced Pa Amat Dibba, young Omar Jagne and Assan ceesay.
Kebba Ceesay of Lech Poznan is expected to bolster the squad too. An Unsettled Mustapha Carayol is excluded due to uncertainty surrounding his future at club side Middlesbrough FC.
Goalkeeper: Modou Jobe, Sam M. Jammeh, Alagie Nyabally.
Defence: Abdou Jammeh, Bubacarr Sanneh, Kebba Ceesay, Omar Colley, Futty Danso, Pa Modou Jagne, Abdoulie Ken. Mansally and Ousman Koli.
Midfield: Sanna Nyassi, Sulayman Marreh, dawda Ngum, Ebrima Sohna, Matarr Nyan, Modou Barrow and Hamza Barry.
Strike force: Assan ceesay, Bubacarr trawally, Pa Amat Dibba, Omar Jagne and Ibou Sawaneh