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AFCON 2021 : 5 lessons we have learned from Gambia’s participation

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AFCON 2021 : 5 lessons we have learned from Gambia’s participation

1.Defense worked until the host came calling

Solidity at the Gambia’s rear guard has been one of the cornerstones of our debut campaign in Cameroon. Up until the game against Indomitable Lions, the Scorpions hadn’t concede a goal in open play. At the heart of it all were the pair of veteran Omar Colley and his younger sidekick James Gomez. While Colley remains a calming influence and a smooth operator at the top level, James also has the world as his oyster. The Gambia can rely on the duo for years to come. However, the way Cameroon poked holes in our back after a faultless first half display would raise some eyebrows. The feeling among many is that a more adventurous approach might have yielded a different outcome.

2. A kumbaya moment for country

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Whereas Gambian men and their love affair with football is an open secret, the manner in which everyone embraced the Scorpions’ involvement in the tournament had been nothing short of a revealation. Images of our nerve wrecking women shouting at the top of of their voices bore testament to the love and support even non-footballing minds had shown towards our boys. For once in as many years, a people that were politically daggers drawn had one common constituency to cheer. The banner of nationalism couldn’t be more visible.

3. Defanteh will always have a place in our social media ecosystem

We may have had our light bulb moments in the past few weeks but our copy book wasn’t without a few blots. Stevegate was followed by the Bai Nyassgate, raising fears in some quarters that those two episodes could derail what was an oustanding outing in Cameroon. But as it has always been the case these days, online ping pong has now become a new normal. Give it one day and a non-issue will fizzle out like it never happened until another one raises it head the next day.

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4. Baboucarr Gaye is our new poster boy for a reason

From the moment he saved from 12 yards against Tunis GK Gaye endeared himself to the football frenzy people of Gambia. Now, it seems he is firmly in the frame to make the goal keeping spot his own after coming into the Afcon as an untried and untested one for Gambia. His ability with the feet and distribution make him an ideal modern day goalie much sought after by coaches that like to play from the back.

5. Gambia no longer a small footballing nation

Ranked 150 in the world on the cusp of the Afcon and the least.

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