By Sulayman Bah
A close look at the quality at Scorpions’ coach Tom Saintfiet’s disposal, it’s hard to believe why Gambia can’t score enough or beat teams beyond the 2-1 or 1-0 goal margins they’ve managed whenever it wins an outing.
There is blizzard of options to ensure the coach is spoilt for choice in that regard but of recent, the score –that’s if we get to win at all – is mostly thinner than one can imagine.
The only time Gambia has mauled an opposition nation in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier has been in 2010 when the Scorpions trounced Namibia at home 3-1. Sainey Nyassi, Ousman Jallow and Momodou Ceesay were the architects in that duel.
A year later, the team under Paul Put repeated the score feat this time in a friendly up against the DR Congo in Banjul. Before then, the 6-1 whitewashing of Lesotho was the standout win early in the 2000s.
Bearers of the national team jerseys have evolved in talent over the years with days when strikers plucked off our local league incorporated to lead the senior scorpions well behind us.
It is more a case of the supply exceeding the demand in the times we’re on.
Arthur Gomez –then the country’s wunderkind cutting it in Manchester United’s reserves – in his hey days would sure be a surplus to requirements in the current national team.
Where the likes of Bubacarr Trawally (Steve), the top scoring African in the Chinese Super League on 16 goals, Pa Amat Dibba, the top scorer in the Swedish top flight prior to his move to Asia and 15-goal Macoumba Kandji are down the coach’s pecking order, should be clear explanation of the top-notch caliber of stars comprising the national team.
The strike partnership of Momodou Ceesay and Ousman Jallow from 2005 have played on fans minds but their relevance in today’s generation have been made to fade away owing to the emergence of a new breed in the form of Musa Barrow, Assan Ceesay, Ali Sowe, Lamin Jallow who may not even have considered taking up the game as a career when the aforementioned duo were rocking the airwaves.
Musa alone stands in a league of his own, scoring over 20 goals in Italy’s youth league before getting propelled to Atalanta’s first team. His inimitable displays is forcing AS Roma, Inter Milan and Tottenham to take notice. Little wonder the 19-year-old is in the running for Europe’s youngest best player gong which PSG and France World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe is poised to win.
Barrow’s call-up has raised the bar inevitably including expectations. Algeria’s defence hair strands stood on ends from the little playing time Musa was accorded in the final minutes as goal scorer Assan Ceesay’s replacement.
This has sparked belief that Ceesay and Barrow could likely partner up in attack against Togo and perhaps provide answers to Gambia’s scoring blues.
There is Ali Sowe to come in as a back-up or field in as a winger supported by Lamin Jallow or Mustapha Carayol on the flanks.
On paper, Gambia carries the potent of a gun powder and should instill terror in Togo if coach Tom finds the balance from amongst the plethora of forwards at his disposal.
Assan Ceesay has been the team’s Mr. Reliable grabbing a goal in each of the last three games against Morocco, Central African Republic and Algeria thus, a concrete contender for a starting slot against the Sparrow Hawks in Lome unless injury gets in the way.
His partnership with Barrow is no longer a matter if rather one of when.
Emmanuel Adebayor and co should be fidgeting under hot bricks if Gambia’s attack begins to chew big and live up to its quality.