Beginning today, The Gambia would be gripped with football fever the like of which has probably never happened.
For the first time in history The Gambia is sitting on top of a qualifying group for the African Nations Cup with a decent chance to take one of the two available qualifying spots with only two matches to go.
The first of those two matches takes place today at the Independence Stadium against Angola. This could be the most important assignment in this crusade because a victory over the Angolans will almost certainly put The Gambia in pole position to grab first or second in the group.
The remainder of the fixtures will take Gambia to DR Congo on March 29 but even a point, meaning draw there, will be enough to confirm Gambia’s first ever appearance in the African Nations Cup. And what a story that will be after more than 50 years of waiting.
In pursuit of this prestigious achievement, it is important that all Gambians work together directly or indirectly to help the country succeed. The most important people in this project are the players, their coaches and technicians. With football now played without spectators, the players have a new motivation to shoulder the burden all by themselves and present the population with a pleasant surprise of a lifetime.
It is not always that a country qualifies for the African Nations Cup and so when it happens different generations converge to celebrate it and pass the experience in books, journals and now videos to the unborn. The experience and feeling of such a feat will galvanise the country’s youth to be patriotic and ambitious. The government of the day will bask on the glory of the footballers to boost its political image and development credits and certainly use it as an effective propaganda tool especially in an election year.
Our footballers too would be further exposed to the world of football scouts and business entrepreneurs who would then remember the name of The Gambia forever.
This journey started a long time ago with hard work and great sacrifices of footballers and technicians alongside philanthropists, dead or alive, coupled with the efforts of successive governments.
As we get near reaping the fruit of the labour of these veterans and heroes, we urge our footballers to be totally committed and ruthless in dealing with the task ahead. There is no margin for error especially today when victory is a must. The job is doable and we cannot afford to bungle this one. So go, Scorpions go!