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Bravo Coach Sarr and lads

Nov 3, 2010, 12:58 PM | Article By: Dodou Bojang

It has been a long and rocky road for the GFA, and the U20 head coach Lamin Sarr and his lads. But finally they have done us proud by taking us yet to another African Youth Championship.

Lamin Sarr goes down in the history books as the 3rd home-grown coach to qualify a national team to a continental championship after Pa Suwareh Faye did it with the U17 in 2003 and Peter Bonu Johnson in 2007 with the U20.

Lamin Sarr’s achievement came against so much scepticism and criticism from many in the football family. Thank God he has been able to stand the test. He must be basking in joy and why not. He can take a boat and cruise the length and breadth of the River Gambia with his lads. However, they must not forget a bigger challenge lies ahead of them. Bravo Lamin and Lads.

Task ahead

Qualifying the Gambia to Libya is a fair development. Perhaps the greater task is producing a respectable performance in Libya different from the 2009 Nigeria FIFA U-17 World Cup experience.

Reaching the semi-final and the greater ambition of coming home with the trophy should be the ultimate dream. Whether or not Lamin is capable of doing this depends on how Lamin works on his team against March. 

For Lamin Sarr to make a difference in Libya; he must either win the tournament or at least reach the final because Bonu in Congo 2007 crashed out at the semi-final stage. Qualifying to Colombia 2011 will add another feather to the West Coast man’s cap but he can only outdo Bonu only if he makes it to the semi-final because in Canada 2007 Bonu crashed out at the quarterfinal.

One fundamental question asked is: Can Lamin Sarr take The Gambia to the FIFA World Cup Colombia 2011 slated from 29 July to 30 August?

One of Lamin’s tasks at the moment is to put up a team that will ensure a respectable show in Libya. As coaches will usually say, his focus must be to make it to the semi-finals, which will give him an automatic ticket to Colombia. Reaching the finals in Libya would be enough for him to outdo Bonu’s performance and he would undoubtedly be celebrated. I must hasten to say I believe Bonu Johnson is the best Gambian coach at the moment as per his achievement at the youth level and has set the benchmark for any comparison.

Bonu’s success as the first Gambian coach to go through the African youth qualifying round and taking the country to the World Cup makes him standout. That development has made the country believes that with good guidance our lads can match anyone anywhere in the world.

In the face of this, Lamin was not spared blame and was chided for failing to qualify the country to Egypt 2009. He was heavily criticised for misplacing players in the Banjul fixture against Ghana, which the visitors won 1-0. His boys’ dismal performance on the evening and their ineffective tactical display raised a lot of questions about his capability.

Well, Lamin has told the press time and time again that he is competent. Beating Ivory Coast home and away to land a place in the Rwanda 2011 African championship is perhaps just one confirmation of Lamin’s argument though his side’s performance at home against Ivory Coast left a bad taste.


Another fundamental question to ask is: Does Lamin have the resource?

Fortunately for Lamin, there is a large pool of U-20 starlets for him to choose from. He qualified without the service of midfielder Paul Appa Jatta, who is plying his trade with Brondby in Denmark, striker Ebrima Bojang of Saint Etienne, France, and midfielder Abdurrahman Dampha of Swiss side Neuchatel Xamax FC just to mention a few.

However, recent developments have raised fears that Lamin may be forced to work under unfortunate conditions as he did during the qualifying rounds. The team almost failed to travel to Ivory Coast for the final leg of the qualifier due to “lack of funds”. The boys are still owed allowances yet the expectation is that they must win “accolades” as we always hear them say.

I cannot accept that we don’t have money, an excuse we continue to hear from them, the GFA and whoever that is responsible. This is equally a national task and it must be effectively carried out.  Achieving excellence in sports cannot be achieved by mere eloquent speeches and oratory. Pragmatism is what is needed and the best time is now otherwise we risk a poor show in Libya.

Remember, our opponents in Libya will be Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt, Cameroon, Mali and Lesotho. None of these sides will be pushovers. For the Gambia our home land, is now or never.