Once again, The Gambia is hit by the undesirable and embarrassing label of being disqualified from an international football event allegedly because of age cheating.
This time, the Under -17, also called the Baby Scorpions, the most successful football team ever in Gambian history-(they won two continental titles) have been thrown out of the regional Wafu tournament organised by Caf to select its qualifiers for the Afcon Under-17 tourney later this year.
Until now, majority of Gambians do not know in full the circumstances that led to this dishonorable exit from yet another important event. Was it the fault of the Gambia Football Federation (GFF) or the continental body Caf? What would follow next? These are the questions exercising the minds of many Gambians who have not forgotten the disgrace the country had to endure after being banned from world football in 2014 under similar circumstances.
In the absence of a press conference the little details given by the GFF on the incident go like this: The GFF tested over two dozen players under Caf supervision in Banjul only 13 of whom were okayed. They recruited a new batch of 17 players who, along with the 13 were taken to Senegal where another test cleared 25 which they assembled for the tournament. However dead in the night on the eve of the first match the team was woken up by tournament officials to take both Covid-19 and MRI tests.
The results of these tests did not come until the Gambia played two matches. All of a sudden, according to the GFF, they received information that the country has been disqualified because some players were over the age required. The letter from Caf did not say who among the players are affected and how. The GFF said they have therefore lodged an appeal against the decision waiting for Caf. So far there has not been any word from Caf on the matter.
But whatever the outcome of the appeal, the negative publicity already associated with the country is not comfortable. We there call on the GFF to get to the bottom of this affair whatever it takes and as quickly as possible. While the nation awaits clarification on the matter, we join all to wish the Under -20, the Young Scorpions very good luck in their last group match in the African Youth championship in Mauritania.