Gambia coach Tom Saintfiet will let loose a gallery of stars against unknown quantity New Zealand in today’s international friendly in United Arab Emirates.
This will be the Belgian’s 21st official match in charge of The Gambia. Since guiding his Scorpions to qualify for the Africa Cup of nations, Saintfiet has been scouting the globe for any player with Gambian heritage to play for the country. His job in attracting new players has become a little easy with a ticket to the Afcon in his hands but according to the coach, a player has to be extremely talented and effectively responsive to his philosophy to be on that plane to Cameroon. So, he demanded and got overseas training camps and friendlies including the one today in faraway Dubai. There, his boys would take on the champions of Oceania who have been to the World Cup twice boasting of stars in top leagues. With a history of underachieving against non- African teams, the Gambian team stands to make history if they can break that jinx. Goal merchant Assan Ceesay is on hand, and so are Steve Trawalley, Lamin Jallow; all of them on fire. The Coach will also have the service of versatile Sulayman Marreh among others. Saintfiet though has questions about his fascination with a seemingly hurried injection of new blood at the expense of reliable old guards. This is more apt in the goal-keeping department where the redoubtable Modou Jobe (Toldo) has been sidelined of late. Again, with less than two months to go, Sainfiet should now begin to have an idea as to which set of Scorpions have proven themselves to be on the plane. Experimentation must now produce a formula that can be trusted. Could he begin to mentally fashion out his pick after New Zealand?