By Sulayman Bah
Considering his feats in football, the prospect of competing one of Africa’s deadliest strikers Ghana Asamoah Gyan and Brazil legend Robinho will leave any up-and-coming young footballer overwhelmed. Gambia’s Bubacarr Trawally is no exception.
The 20-year-old goal-getter almost single-handedly spurred Yanbian’s automatic promotion to the Chinese Super League. It was Yanbian – a province of 200,000 inhabitants – first title in as many years of attempts without success. It couldn’t have been a happier ending for Bubacarr who arrived on a season-long loan from Green Town.
Yanbian will ply in the Chinese Super League next campaign where Steve could get a chance of mixing it with league marquee signings like Robinho, Demba Ba, Paulinho and Ghana’s Asmaoh Gyan who’s reportedly Africa’s best paid player.
Already, the scorpion is relishing prospects of clashing against such demi-gods of the trade for the championship’s golden boot.
‘Well, it would be an honour to play on the same pitch with one of Africa’s best players, not only Gyan but Demba Ba, Robinho and many other big names in China. But there isn’t anything like competing with (Aasmaoh) Gyan for goals. I am Just going to keep my game going and help my team win games,’ Trawally, who virtually was little known genius in the suburbs of hometown Bundung Culture, says.
However for that to happened, the 20-year-old will need to sort out his future first. The player is sandwiched between returning to Green Town after end of his stipulated loan spell and possibility of extending his stay with Yanbian beyond the current one season. His agent is being inundated with a bombardment of interests from clubs outside of China all ardent of acquiring Steve’s signature.
Green Town though have much influence over the player who’s committed to them on a longer term.
‘As of now, both clubs want to have me for next season. But as far as football is concerned, I’m a Green Town player. So they have more power over me but yeah I’m on holiday now and we have a lot of time to decide what’s best for me and the club as my agent is working on it,’ Trawally told Foroyaa Sport from his base in China over the weekend.
On clubs keeping his tabs on him and nailing a spot in Green Town, he said: ‘There are clubs contacting my agent in different countries. But as I said, we’re on holidays so all that is on the run way. Let’s just keep fingers crossed and hope for the best in the end. Green Town is a big club and a lot is requested to have a starting spot (there). But I think with the good performance this season, and a little more hard work to it before the start of next season, it would give me a good chance to play there.’
Back in June, the press back home was awash with lavishes for this second division player who only scored his first career hat-trick. To say it was clear cut exaggeration might be too quick and yet dangerous conclusion considering the lad’s work rate and mindboggling goal ratio.
He did not only make Yanbian fans dare believe promotion is possible but had them thinking they were the league’s best lot. Seventeen goals in little over twenty games is a statistic difficult to overlook.
Video of his sensational rabona goal –classed under best football goals Hall of Fame – went viral, bringing a secluded Chinese province to the football World’s attention. It earned him mentions in numerous respected football tabloids. Such audacity lends credit to Bubacarr’s self-belief and growing confidence.
At Hangzhou Green Town, he will be expected to be an instant hit on account of his goals when the new season start next year January and that comes with a pressure. The ace though wouldn’t be bothered and saying he’s unfazed by pressure.
‘If you know Steve very well, you won’t mention my name with pressure beside it. I guess been relaxed on my game is what gives me good performances. A lot though would be expected of me anytime I’m in the game especially with goals.’
The ex-Real de Banjul player set a goal target of 10 or 15 prior start of last league season and ended up hitting double figures – nine goals shy of matching the league scorer who’s on twenty-six.
And challenged about how much will he peel off, come the New Year, his response was little hesitant this time.
‘The season is far from starting. So, I can’t promise anything but would work hard to match the expectations of the fans supporting me and raise my game and scoring.’
Seventeen goals per season isn’t a number usually attained by Gambian strikers abroad. Dawda Bah holds the record of the highest Gambian scorer in a season, netting twenty-seven while at Finnish club KPV between 2005/6. Steve did not get to realize of the towering goal mark until much later when he read it in the local papers.
‘I would have loved to break his record but there is nothing I could do. I’m just starting and this has been my first season scoring 17 goals, it’s a big boost for me. I am just concentrating on my game and hoping to improve and get better each day. Hopefully, someday, I will get on his goal mark (Dawda’s record),’ he continued.
Steve had a chance to add to his goal-haul over the weekend but managed to pull off only assists in the 4-0 obliteration of second from bottom Huan Xiangtao as they were confirmed league champions.
Days before this encounter, the entire Yanbian team were spoiled with red-carpet treatment as festive air gripped the province over the side’s promotion.
Switching the discourse to the Gambian national team, the 20-year-old was much keen. Gambia gaffer Raoul Savoy had an embarrassment of talents at his disposal for the Afcon and World Cup qualifiers with Trawally one of the big names invited.
But to the bewilderment of fans he only had a ten-minute cameo from the substitutes’ bench against Cameroon in Banjul. The coach came on the receiving end of derides for overlooking the China-based footballer. Similar thing followed against Namibia were he wasn’t even considered for a minute football.
But amidst mounting pressure and with Gambia’s qualification chances slimming, Savoy was forced to offer Bubacarr Trawally a starting place in a much changed Scorpion set up.
However in retrospection, Trawally doesn’t hold grudges over being overlooked and prefers to view it as one learning cure worthy of enduring.
‘It’s football and only 11players can start a game. I am still a young player (in Africa). I have a lot of time to learn and starting on the bench in the first two games wasn’t a bad thing. It’s part of the game and when my time came on the third game, I started and played 90mins.’
Gambia face a herculean task in the group after exiting in the World Cup preliminary round. The Scorpions occupy third-place behind and Mauritania and table-topping Cameroon. Savoy’s charges wouldn’t kick a ball in the internationals till March 2016. Friendly matches will ready up the team but no such murmurings regarding such plans are heard around the GFF dormitory.