Technical Director Sang Ndong of the Gambia Football Federation has said the sudden changes to the Afcon 2021 qualifiers which now means The Gambia will play Gabon in two legs in March do not necessarily mean a huge changes, panic or alarm in technical preparations.
“By and large one has only few days to prepare a national team because players are only available only days to the match. So the changes may affect logistical preparations more than technical ones. Obviously the budgeting and other logistics were being planned for August but now that Caf has decided the fixtures will be played in March, such matters have to be shifted accordingly,” TD Ndong, an iconic former national goalkeeper told The Standard yesterday.
He further stated that national team coach Tom Saintfiet like every one else is aware of the changes and working accordingly. ”Of course the sudden and drastic change in the fixtures may not be received with any warm welcome, but there is nothing one can do about it since it came from Caf,” Ndong added.
Having started the qualifiers with a scintillating away victory to Angola and a home draw against DR Congo, the Scorpions must have reason to believe that Gabon is breakable. ”Well this is football and it is sometimes hard to predict but for me I think DR Congo is the most difficult team in the group. All the teams in the group have better rankings over the Gambia but DR Congo has a strong and rich history as a formidable football nation. So I think they are the hardest nut to crack in the group,”Ndong observed.
However according to TD Ndong, as things stand now, The Gambia will considerably increase her chances of qualifying ‘if we can manage two more victories’.
The Gambian fans will hope that is achievable as early as March against Gabon, in Banjul and Libreville.
Last week Caf announced it will revert back to holding Afcon finals in January instead of the newly introduced summer tournament. “I am not sure why they changed back to the old schedule but my thinking is it may be heavily raining in Cameroon during the period scheduled for the tourney.” What am sure of is that holding the tourney in January will bring back old problems… European clubs with heavy African presence in their squads such as the current Liverpool team will be affected. And in the past because of the January Afcon tourney some clubs became less keen to sign top African players for fear of losing them when they badly needed them,” Ndong concluded.