Prays for a group match draw Senegalese still dread defeat to Gambia most
Soon after being told of the Afcon 2023 draw that put Gambia and Senegal in the same group, Senegalese Prime Minister and interim minister of sports Amadou Ba reacted with a heavy face: “Oh I would have loved those two to meet in the final so that we can guarantee a Sengambia trophy.” The Prime Minister added. “Anyway, since we cannot avoid meeting in the beginning of the tournament, then I pray that we draw and go on to win other matches to meet in the final”.
Ba, an avid football fan himself, was at the recent Senegal-Gambia economic forum in Dakar where his initial reaction to the draw was recounted by the Master of Ceremonies.
He was also quoted to have said the draw means great advancement of football in the Senegambia region.
Meanwhile in the streets of Dakar, the draw against Gambia and Guinea, very close neighbours to the current African champions have ignited some curious feelings. While Senegalese are confident that they would come out of the group, one outcome they all dread most is a defeat to Gambia. ”If Gambia wins us in our first match as champions that will be the biggest tragedy in Senegalese football. It will even erase all history,” said a Dakar football betting enthusiast chatting with The Standard as he sets out to his daily routine of trying to predict match results for money.
“We appreciate the fact that Gambia has advanced in football but no Senegalese is ready take a defeat against Gambia. That would be a tragedy,” taxi driver Pateh Ndow commented as we drove past the Senegalese Football Federation offices on the VDN.
His position is a reflection of a long-standing aversion by Senegal of any Gambian sports victory over it. Football meetings between the two have always generated intense feelings of rivalry with Senegal dominating but never truly confident and often using strong arm tactics and huge off the pitch intimidation to secure victory at all cost especially when the stake is high. The Gambia is placed alongside Senegal, Cameroun and Guinea in Group C of the Afcon 2023 in Cote d’Ivoire with the Senegambia derby set for January 15 in Yamoussoukro.