The Gambia beat Mauritania 1-0 to end a long period of hibernation under Caf sanctions and political upheavals in its football. But the Gallant Scorpions of rookies that pulled that much needed hope- restoration feat also revealed the amount of work needed to get the Gambia national team’s machine functioning.
For a start, it was never meant to be glory hunting for The Gambia, without foreign-based players and key local boys absent with champion Real de Banjul. But when the boys filed up and grew in confidence, they frustrated Mauritania’s much lubricated side in many fronts and midway into the first half, there were indications they just might pull heroics.
Mustapha Njie worked the ball in one of his many marauding attacks for Ebou Kanteh to follow into the net with a header after 22 minutes. But with the tall slicky Mauritanians breathing down their neck the boys hardly rediscovered that rhythm despite countless other shows of brilliance including a shot in to the net by Lamin Chatty disallowed for an offside. But the credit for keeping the slender lead to an emphatic one in favour of The Gambia goes to Christopher Allen at the post. The GPA goalie frustrated Mauritania who introduced virtually their entire bench and laid a siege near the Gambian area with a barrage of shots and repeated corners. Allen either parried or grabbed all in the nick of time to deny the visitors.
The victory paved the way and produced reasons to believe a prospective strong comeback for The Gambia. ‘We however need to be patient as this team is only eight days old so we thank God for this,” said Bonu Johnson, the Under 23 coach who guided the Scorpions in the rebuilding match.
Mauritanian coach Corentin Martins has every reason to be impressed with his boys for the many chances they created but failed to score. “But this is just one of two friendlies we arrange. We must respond in the one against Niger,” he said before flying out with his team on the same night.
An analyst who spoke to The Standard said the team may have won but obviously need working on.’ ‘You could see that the boys were keen to give their best but techniques and skills need perfecting on. My best player today is not the infield ones but the Goal keeper,” one seasoned analyst commented.
Addtional reporting by Momodou Gajaga]]>