By Sulayman Bah
Gaffer Tom Saintfiet will perhaps have to give it a second thought whenever statistics of the national team are being discussed.
The coach and a section of the press were led into believing including, shockingly, the Gambia Football Federation, that statistics managed by the Belgian is Gambia’s best ever in over decades in qualifiers.
Tom was quickly the subject of adulations after he plucked off six points in a possible fifteen, earning Gambia a first home win after five years.
This came in the Scorpions’ come from behind 3-1 triumph over Benin last November at the Independence Stadium.
A win in the final encounter with Algeria would have meant a lot for a team looking to make its debut in this year’s Afcon in Cairo.
The Belgian’s future immediately became the subject of discussions amid heated debate over whether or not he should be retained.
Weighing in, the gaffer wasted little time to launch into aggrandizement, claiming to be Gambia’s all-time best gaffer following his return from Algeria.
But new statistics have emerged appearing to silence him. The revelation goes back to the 2008 Nations Cup qualifications for Ghana.
As difficult as stats are to acquire in the country, it turned out that Gambia’s best grading is in fact an eight-pointer and not the six Tom had in the just concluded campaign.
Then under the tutelage of Spaniard Jose Martinez who later quit the Scorpions’ managerial hot-seat for family grounds, Gambia captained by Jatto Ceesay finished joint-second in group H along with Algeria.
Algeria and Gambia tallied from points, goal difference, number of wins to losses but the Desert Foxes ended up joining table-toppers Guinea Conakry to the finals in Ghana based on fair-play.
It was in this qualifier round that Jatto ceased playing for Gambia having faltered in the 2-0 defeat to Guinea at the Independence Stadium.
The reverse, fixture in what was then believed to be a fragile Gambian team left hosts Syli Nationale flabbergasted when results ticked 1-1 at conclusion of the game.
It was in this game that Modou Jagne, then plying his trade in Austria, earned fans’ respect when he sneaked in to tap home past a stupefied Guinean net-minder to force a 2-2 stalemate.