EXCLUSIVE: Gambia sensation Raymond wants Tunisian title

By Sulayman Bah

After fading into years of oblivion Gambia teenager Raymond Mendy’s stock is beginning to soar. And already he Raymond is the promising star of CS Sfaxientargets laying his grips on the Tunisian much coveted Ligue One title.

Some maelstrom of controversy clouds him over his departure from Real de Banjul with the local Gambian club still understood to be somewhat umbraged by it all.

But fast forward, Raymond has put behind him all that furore and now appears more than stable to surge on with his career, preoccupied with helping Club SportifSfaxien secure some silverwares this campaign.

For his audacious ambition to see light of reality, the 19-year-old first needs to force himself into gaffer Ellili’s thinking. This is his debut season with the first-team having spent the past forty-eight months with the reserves. His rise to the A- team was delayed by the annoying red-tape involved with securing a work permit with the Tunisian Football Federation having arrived at the club an under-age.

But now that the Gambian is sorted with paper work issues Raymond is focused on stamping a mark in the North African nation’s premier league and his ambition is obvious to see.

‘Is a great work for me to join the team after four years struggling’, the left-footer says of his agonies to get down to work in the Tunisian capital.

‘It was due to paper work before that was the problem but now everything is okay. I feel calm and being encouraged by the big players in the club with huge experiences,’ Mendy tells Foroyaa Sport from Tunisia.

The contrast between the league at his home and the one he now finds himself in, is noticeably huge.

Thousands bellowing fans rally behind him and his team-mates at the StadeTaïebMhiri compare to paltry spectator turnouts back home, a thing he’d gotten used to with mentorship from his older experienced club mates.

‘It’s a great experience for me to play with big players. And in our team, we have seven players playing in the national side of Tunisia. So is good for me to learn from them’

The Tunisian top flight is ten games old with Sfaxien trailing second to table-topping Etoile Du Sahel. Mendy, whose promotion follows his six goals in eight matches for the second-team, is deployed in attacking midfield and has managed to notch an assists in three games for the first team.

His statistics may not be mind-boggling but are sure courting the attentions of top clubs one of them a being a European club. Raymond though is not allowing his head turned by the sudden euphoria he’s generating preferring instead to get down to work.

‘I’m having a four-year contract remaining. So my club don’t want me to move for now. But we are working hard to win the league this year, that’s what I’m wishing’

Being the left-footer he is, this youngster idolizes Paris St Germain Argentine international Di Maria and former Manchester United and Japan playmaker Shinji Kagawa.

Majority of his former teammates are now diamond gems of the Gambia national team and when the subject matter shifted to the Scorpions’ heart-wrenching woes, Raymond was much keen.

‘We need quality players and players who are ready to play for our country and not individual players. We need young players in the squad not those who don’t mind winning or losing. The likes of Steve (BubacarrTrawally ex-club mate) and Hamza Barry should be in the field (playing). We have good young talents in the Gambia not only in Europe believe me. We have them they are ready to have dreams,’ he dwelled on.

On playing for Gambia, his replies: ‘I’m concentrating on my club first. I’m still a young player as well. So, I’m not in a rush to play for Gambia, though is my country. I need to settle first and the performance (the Gambian team) was sloppy.’