Gambian coach Tom Saintfiet has said he hopes that the Independence Stadium currently under renovation is ready to enable the national team to play there. The Coach was talking to Africasports.com about his reaction to the World Cup 2026 draw.
The Gambia is placed in Group F alongside Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Kenya, Burundi and Seychelles.
“We want to play in front of our fans. Everyone knows it’s important to take points at home, and it’s better to play in front of your fans. I hope the stadium will be ready,” he added.
The Gambia coach also told africasports.com that even though Côte d’Ivoire are the group favourites, with top-class players, but they don’t seem to him to be of the same quality as Morocco or Senegal. “Gabon is also a good team. We’ll have to respect everyone and be wary of the Seychelles, but I think Gambia could have a role to play,” explains Tom who hopes that Gambia, whose stadium in Banjul is not approved by CAF, will finally be able to play at home.”
Though the coach’s interview was focused in the World Cup, there is an even more urgent pressure for work on the stadium to be completed to acceptable levels soon. The Scorpions need only a point in the final qualifying match on 4 September, which means drawing Congo to reach their second Afcon finals. But with match day getting closer fans are on the edge as to whether Caf will approve the stadium to host this crucial match.
Already a Caf inspection team has hinted that much more work need to be done both in and outside the stadium. The government and contractors are working on the clock to ensure that the facility is approved by Caf on their next inspection visit next month.