The conditions are in place for the Scorpions, the sobriquet for Gambia’s Men’s National Football Team, to take part in their first African Cup of Nations finals, said the first vice president of The Gambia Football Federation (GFF), Mr. Bakary K. Jammeh.
“It’s time as players, the Federation and government authorities to see Gambia at the CAN, especially for the next edition, [scheduled for 2021 in Cameroon], Mr. Jammeh said in an interview with APS in Cairo, Egypt, which was originally published in French.
Jammeh, also the Vice President of Real de Banjul Football Club, where he has more than three decades affiliation first at managerial level and later governance, is the head of administration and finance at the GFF.
He is currently in Cairo as a member of the CAF Orgnising Committee for age category competitions and is one of the match commissioners for the ongoing African U-23 championships played there.
Gambia’s first two results for the CAN 2021 qualifiers are “very encouraging”, he said, thanks in part to the players he believes are playing in the best leagues in the world.
Mr. Jammeh cited Sampdoria defender Omar Colley and midfielder Ebrima Colley (Atalanta, Italy), as well as other Gambian players playing in France and Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden and Denmark).The first vice-president of the Federation is therefore delighted by the victory against Angola (3-1) away and a draw (2-2) at home against DR Congo, results obtained in the opening two matches of the qualifiers of CAN 2021 and which he says confirms the Federation and its ambitions.
“Now we do not miss a FIFA date and it’s important to help our young players prepare for the qualifying matches,” he said, recalling that before the 2019 CAN qualifiers, Gambia defeated Guinea and Morocco in back to back friendly matches as part of a 12-day training camp in Marrakesh, Morocco in June.“Nothing is won in advance but we are on the right track,” said Bakary Jammeh.
The Scorpions, he further noted, want to follow in the footsteps of Cape Verde (2013 and 2015), Guinea Bissau (2017 and 2019) and Mauritania (2019) who have already taken part in the final stages of the CAN. “You don’t have an idea of the pressure on our shoulders,” he said, noting that fans are constantly recalling the participation, in the recent past, of teams that were competing at the same level with us in the defunct Amilcar Cabral Zone II championships qualifying for the continental showpiece event.
“Before the victory against Angola, our last success in a competitive match away from home was in 1983 and it was against Mauritania (3-1). Yes, it will not be easy but we are confident despite this draw against the DR Congo,” he said of yesterday’s scintillating stalemate with the Leopards where the Scorpions twice came from behind to ensure a share of the spoils with a team currently ranked 54th in the world, 112 places above The Gambia.
He further noted that against DR Congo, Gambia played without its best striker, Assan Ceesay (FC Zurich) who was suspended for accumulating two yellows as well as the injured duo of Muhammad Badamossi (FUS Rabat, Morocco) and Aboulie Jallow (AC Ajaccio, France).
“With the increment to 24 teams, it’s very possible and we will give everything to get there, believe me,” concluded Mr. Jammeh.The Gambia, the lowest ranked team in the Group, tops the logs with four points, the same number of points as Gabon but the West Africans lead on their positive goal difference of two.
The Nations Cup qualifiers will now take a back seat for the World Cup and would return in September 2020 when the two group leaders square off in in a two-legged affair; first in Franceville with the return leg in Banjul a week later. DR Congo is third on two points with Angola bottom on zero. The two best finishers will both qualify for the Cameroon AFCON.
Curtesy of gambiaff.org