Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Coach Saintfiet: ‘I’m Not Begging Any Player to Play for Gambia’

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 By Sulayman Bah

Tom Saintfiet insists he won’t be begging any player to don Gambia’s colours.

The Belgian’s remarks come in the wake of a trio players’ continuous refusal to honour call-ups from the Gambian coach.

Modou Barrow, Hamza Barry and Bubacarr Trawally, in the words of the gaffer, have snubbed several invitations to play for Gambia.

The 46-year-old’s fall-out  with the stars date back to his first game in charge of Gambia against Algeria last September.

An erstwhile Namibia head coach, Saintfiet had left out Bubacarr Trawally, a decision that didn’t go down well, initially with some invited players, who rejected flying over for the Algeria game in solidarity with Trawally then plying his trade in the Chinese Super League.

In the heat of this, there was talk technical members of Tom’s team connived to sway the Belgian to overlook Trawally but the gaffer in a later presser, allayed such fears, revealing Bubacarr was omitted for technical reasons, saying he wanted to test other strikers.

It was rumoured present team vice-captain Omar Colley was one of players rebelling against the coach in sympathy to Trawally before the Sampdoria ace apologised leading to his return to the team during the previous Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Since then, Saintfiet has had his contract revised and improved and in a mark of fresh start, volunteered to invite the triumvirate again -efforts Modou Barrow, Bubacarr Trawally and Hamza Barry threw out of the window in defiance.

Talk of whether they have been summoned for the World Cup qualifier against Angola in September resurfaced during yesterday’s presser forcing the coach into making a bold statement.

‘I don’t see any reason to meet players who have never answered my call from day one,’ he said.

He continued: ‘If Steve Trawally, Hamza Barry and Modou Barrow want to talk to me they have my phone number, they can call me but I’m not begging them to play. I don’t need to beg anyone to play for his country. How ashamed….You expect me to beg people “please play for your country.” I think, as a fan, you must be offended that someone refused to play for your country –to wear that shirt, that logo to hear the anthem. I mean normally, you have to beg to play in a national team but not the opposite way around. It is your country –it’s a call from your nation, to defend your country.

‘Playing for your national team even helps you to get a bigger contract in Europe. We’re always talking about players we don’t have. How does Musa Barrow, Lamin Jallow, Yusupha Njie feel when you always talk about other people. Respect these players. I did not invite any Chinese. All these guys (invited players for Angola game) are your people, support them, love them and respect them.’

Gambia face Angola September 6th at the Independence Stadium with a return visit to follow in Luanda four days later.

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