The Gambia national Under -20 made history last night snatching both the Wafu Zone A championship trophy and more importantly, a place in next year’s African Under 20 finals in Nouackhot.
The Young Scorpions, who made a disastrous start to the tourney in Thies, Senegal, losing 5 -1 to the host in their opener, pulled a magical comeback, seeing of Sierra Leone 2-1 to reach the semis and beating of a stiff resistance from Senegal to lift the trophy.
The Gambian side stole the twin- glories in a dramatic marathon penalty shoot out that saw both sides throwing advantage. The Gambia prevailed when Senegal’s Ebrima Drame missed what was perhaps the most important kick of his life and the one that mattered. As his shot hit the post handing the coveted Wafu Cup to the young Scorpions, Senegal’s hopes faded into oblivion. The two sides had fought a spirited 2-2 draw in regulation time with The Gambia taking the lead twice, and with Senegal leveling on both occasions, proceedings went into a scoreless extra time forcing the match to into nerve-wrecking tie breaking shots.
This is the Gambia’s second title in this championship, the first being in Liberia in 2018. But while that was played down as child’s play, (after the team was knocked out of the African Under- 20 the following week} last night’s title proved the Gambia is indeed a force to be reckoned with in continental youth football.
At continental level, Gambia took bronze in the African series in Brazzaville in 2007 and a ticket to the world series in Canada the same year when the boys narrowly missed reaching the second round.
Under Coach Matar Mboge, this new generation of Young Scorpions will be keen to go further than 2007 when they take their place in the 2021 African youth championship in not faraway Mauritania.