The Scorpions of The Gambia will resume their campaign for a place in the 2014 Afcon finals with a double -legged tie against the Maurabitones of Mauritania, starting with an away leg in Nouakchott tomorrow.
The last time that these two teams met, it was the selection of locally based Scorpions that secured a laboured 1-0 win over a star-studded Mauritania in Banjul’s Independence Stadium, with Sang Pierre Mendy scoring the game’s only goal. That was the last time that The Gambia won a football match at senior team level and tomorrow’s encounter would come exactly two days short of the one-year anniversary of that match.
The Gambia is third in the four-team Group M with a solitary point from two games, leveled with South Africa in fourth. Both teams are two points adrift of Mauritania, while Cameroon is on top of the log with a maximum six points from two games.
Ahead of the game, Scorpions’ fans have been having their say on the match. With the return of Swansea City sensation Modou Barrow and Mustapha Carayol of Leeds United, as well as Omar Jagne of Dalkurd to the team, expectations are high.
Below are some of the thoughts.
John Bass of Gambega, a keen football fan
This game is very crucial for Gambia as we are looking forward to qualify to the African Cup of Nations for the first time. It is going to be a determining factor of our qualification; hopes are high. I have hope, unlike other people who are saying we are only playing for pride or on a rebuilding process. This concept change because I believe we can qualify, is just a matter of hope. If we win Mauritania Friday and Tuesday, we will be in high spirit in our next two games against South Africa and Cameroon.
Many things have changed starting from GFF, national team technical side and the players amongst others. We have very committed and young players now both here and Europe. Mauritania, Cameroon and South Africa don’t have better sides than us.
My advice to the Gambian fans is to continue to rally behind The Gambia and Coach Sang Ndong.
Lamin Bojang, a football fan
This is going to be a crucial encounter for both teams especially to the Scorpions, as they are looking forward to qualify to the AFCON for the first time. We defeated Mauritania in our last encounter in Banjul but we have to understand that Mauritania is now a better side compared to the previous years. I have the belief that the Scorpions can make it on Friday, if only they show respect to their opponent.
With the appointment of Sang Ndong and the inclusion of young Gambian talents, together with some professionals, we have the belief that Gambia can make it in Nouakchott. As football fans we will rally behind Sang Ndong and the entire Scorpions team for the AFCON qualifiers tournament, Inshallah the Scorpions can make it.
Hagie Drammeh, Sports Reporter at West Coach Radio
I think this game is going to be a very good test for Sang Ndong and the few home talents given the chance. Mauritania are no more the weeping boys like they used to be; they have put their house in order and built a team that qualified for CHAN for the first time, while The Gambia is still looking for a first national team silverware. Hopes are high here because of the inclusion of our only Gambian star Modou Secka Barrow, who has been in great form recently with Swansea City. I believe if they give their Friday’s opponent a bit of respect they can put up a respectable performance and even have something to bring back home before the Tuesday return leg.
Sang Mendy, Sports Blogger
It is like a litmus test for both teams, the players, the coach, the GFF and their rebuilding process. A win will be good but in case the Scorpions lose, we must take it in good faith because at this moment, Mauritania is a step ahead of us in football. It is not like the 80s and 90s when we used to beat them home and abroad. I am sure the players invited are all young and willing to give it their best. So I am optimistic that they can get something from the away leg.
Alkali Jarju, Central Bank of The Gambia and a football fan
Is going to be a very crucial encounter for both sides, as both teams need to win but Gambia needs it more I guess, as we are in the rebuilding process. The Mauritanian team has transformed drastically as they beat the South African side. Gambians need to be very hungry for goal and defend solidly, because this game will have a direct impact on the return leg to be followed suit in just four days. Is like a repeat of our last Namibia game. So I am very worried. We are keeping the team in our prayers.
Modou lamin Beyai, a keen football fan
I think it’s going to be an evenly fair match with both teams knowing that a win in both legs can boost their chances of qualification. But honestly I don’t think we should underrate Mauritania. They are a side we should be conscious of because they have gone ahead of us in football and they have won must of their home matches in the games they have played, except their recent defeat to Tunisia, while we have struggled for victory. We last beat them in a friendly game in March 2015.
I want us to win in both legs and would like to wish Coach Sang Ndong and the entire team best of luck.
Alieu Jobe, Serrekunda East Bi Coach
Gambian players should know that they are away and have to be very cautious in defence, and capitalise on their chances. Scoring early goal will be a good advantage to The Gambia and to make sure that their opponents don’t score a goal.
Finally I wish Sang Ndong all the best of luck in his first game and may we achieve his objective by winning in Nouakchott.
Mbye Camara, Sports Reporter Star FM Radio
The Gambia and Mauritania match is going to be a good game for both sides.
Mauritania’s 3-1 defeat of South Africa at home has helped boost their confidence coming into the game against the Scorpions.
Having a good result in Mauritania will always be good in the rebuilding and rebranding process of our national team. The players will not be under too much pressure on this game. We are confident of having a good result in Nouakchott come Friday. Looking at the caliber of players Sang Ndong called for the game; the likes of Modou Barrow, Mustapha Carayol, Pa Amat Dibba, amongst others, we can make the country proud in the two encounters.
Thomas Gomez, a football fan
Not many people might be optimistic as to how far the Scorpions can go in this competition, but in the world of football, surprises are inevitable. The story of Leicester City should be an eye-opener to all
Additional reporting by Jainaba D Jatta and Samba Jawo
by Arfang MS Camara