The 8th edition of the U-17 African Championship got off to an exhilarating start on Thursday in Algeria with the Gambia defeating Guinea Conakry 1-0 and Cameroon by 2-0 yesterday. By all accounts, it was a great game that signposted the quality matches that the tournament has to offer.
The Gambia hosted and won the tournament in 2005 but failed to defend the title two years later. So this year's tournament is an opportunity for the Baby Scorpions to prove themselves as title contenders.
Bookmakers have interpreted the absence of regional football giants Nigeria and Ghana as a godsend for other less known teams to make their marks. But even then, The Gambia emerged African champions four years ago with Nigeria and Ghana taking part in the tournament. It is on record that The Gambia inflicted a humiliating defeat on Ghana in the final to win the coveted trophy. But that was four years ago. That was the year of Ous Jallow, the TwinTowers (Sainey and Sanna Nyassi), Modou Ceesay ZICO, Ken Mansary, etc.
There are now fresh legs raising the Gambian flag high in Algeria. Of the lot Ebrima Bojang is already standing out as the goal poacher of his generation. His lone goal has earned The Gambia three precious points and placed the country in pole position to advance further in the tournament.
For the 90 minutes or so that the boys locked horns with their Cameroonian rivals yesterday, they showed grit, guts and gallantry. The Cameroonian were equally good. Both teams showed quality and cohesion, but it was the young Scorpions that finally won the day pinning them down to a 2-0 triumph.
Having secured that initial triumph, the boys have been expected to grow in confidence as the tournament progresses. And the technical crew was expected to show prudence by working on the observed deficiencies of the team for better performance against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroun. Ideally, the team should regard each match as the final and give it their all.
Perhaps the Boys heard our exhortations all the way in
Algeria. But 'Give it their all' is exactly what they did yesterday against the young Indomitable Lions of Cameroun. Again it was an impressive encounter of skills, endurance, tactic, and determination. In the 1st Half, both teams maintained peak performance and not allowing any dangerous penetration into their 18-Yard Box. Gambia was however able to register the first goal of the match in the 20th Minute by Dawda Ceesay, which was followed shortly in the 29th Minute with the second goal which came from Alassan Camara.
Gambia's win over Cameroun spells Cameroun's exit and assures Gambia's progress to the next stage of the tournament even with one match to go against hosts ALGERIA who also defeated Guinea by 1-0 yesterday. Go Scorpions, Go!!