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Saturday, October 16, 2021

The World Cup and The Gambia

It is the first time a Gambian actually participated and inscribed the name of the country in the official archives of this coveted Fifa World Cup.


Understandably, Gambians have never been more enthusiastic for any world cup than this, which offered them a chance not just to see pure football but to see compatriot Bakary Papa Gassama carrying the country’s name for some 90 minutes watched by the world. His achievements mark the best thing to have happened in Gambian football in the 62 years that we have joined the family of world football. 


Despite his unique ambassadorship though, the single most important thing in any nation’s football is for its national team to take part in the World Cup, not just its referee.


We are not amateurs in football not to know that qualifying for a world cup is no mean feat, requiring huge resources, technical, administrative and organisational quality of a country’s football, but we are also aware that we do not need an angel from heavens to take us there.


The World Cup should therefore provide even more inspiration to our football leaders and stakeholders to begin to measure up to the standards attained elsewhere, in deeds and words.  It is sad to admit, but a country that allowed a simple administrative directive to escape it, has a lot to learn when it comes to preparing for a possible great footballing future. 


Such are the small shambles that degenerated into monstrous mistakes in this World Cup where it became obvious that the traditional African ailment of poor organisation and disastrous official attitude have taken its toll on whatever chances the teams had in the World Cup. 


Bereft of a simple basic knowledge of how to prepare a national team for a competition, even in the presence of huge financial resources provided by Fifa, the African teams spent more time feuding over money than actually playing their opponents on the pitch. Apart from Algeria’s sterling performance, this is the worst African world cup in recent times, in that no team reached the quarter-finals. That is the prize you pay for poor organisation.


Elsewhere, this world cup is increasingly looking as another feast for the South Americans and history is on their side as no European nation has ever won it in South America. Though Holland, always harbouring elite personnel, and Germany whose by-word is rampant attack may take great steps to rewrite history, they would find Argentina and Brazil far more at home for the job at hand. Do not misunderstand us we at The Standard in the absence of The Gambia have no favourites; only the best deserve the cup. 


So whether the literally back-breaking hard work of Neymar, or the ever-dazzling skills of Messi could inspire South American world cup, or  Holland getting its first after three times a vice champions or even Germany laying hands on their third, Brazil 2014 had already provided enough fun and perhaps lesson for Gambians.


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