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Gambia U-20 due in Banjul Thursday

Apr 27, 2011, 2:07 PM | Article By: Lamin Drammeh in Johannesburg

Since their shocking elimination in the Caf U-20 Youth championship in South Africa three days ago, The Gambia national U-20 team have started packing their belongings preparing to head back home on Thursday, Pointsport can reveal.

The Darling Scorpions went into the Johannesburg campaign on the back of undoubtedly what proved to be the worst ever preparatory efforts in the build-up to the tournament and eventually had to pay the price for inadequate preparation having failed to win in as many matches conceding 3 goals in the process.

Their biggest and the latest defeat in the campaign came against the Flying Eagles of Nigeria who beat them 2-nil to advance to the next stage of the Competition on Sunday afternoon at the Milpark Stadium amidst angry reaction from embattled coach Lamin Sarr who continues to blame the country’s football authorities for failing to help him in his preparation as they did for other national teams of The Gambia.

Sarr on many occasions appealed to the authorities at the football helm to consider giving as much support as needed to the country’s sole representative in the continental youth tournament but it is absolutely sad to note that only a little support was given to the U-20 team, which is highly regarded as one of the most outstanding teams in terms of individual talents.

“Gambians don’t know the value of the players at their disposal and if Ghana has the type of players The Gambia has, we would not only talk about winning the Caf U-20 tournament but the World Cup,” he said.

The situation surrounding the Gambian team’s preparation is heard to understand because nobody is dreaming of airlifting the Ghanaian national football team barely 24 hrs before playing a game, especially at an international competition of this nature,” an official from Ghanaian U-20 national team revealed to Pointsport in a chat with this reporter at the team’s hotel in Johannesburg.

One might be tempted to ask that If Ghana, a bigger and well established footballing nation than The Gambia is aware of the huge talents The Gambia is able to produce, what is stopping the country’s football authorities of rallying behind the team in a bid to maintain and guide its impressive performance in the continental youth championship.

It is sad to say that our football at all categories including the junior level in particular is going down to zero owing to bad preparatory programme amongst other constraints, which needs an immediate attention for remedial approach.

Lamin Sarr and his charges made every Gambian and even non-Gambians proud by leading the Darling Scorpions to their second appearance in the Caf U-20 Youth Championship after series of spectacular performances which saw the determined young lads progress to the Johannesburg final in a dramatic style as they beat much fancied Ivory Coast Youth side 1-nil to make it through to the final.

But before that his coaching credential was questioned with many suggesting he did not acquire the coaching potential to guide the U-20 to the Caf Youth Championship but eventually proved doubters wrong with some convincing and fantastic team display.

The team began the qualifying campaign with a promising 4-1 win at the expense of Sierra Leone in July and completed the mission in Freetown after the Darling Scorpions held the Sierra Leone U-20 side to a bitterly fought goalless draw in the return leg much to the delight of a teeming number of the country’s football fraternity.

Two years ago, Sarr was massively branded the underdog in Gambian football when he failed in his attempt to lead the U-20 team to the same finals after losing 1-nil to Ghana in the final day of the qualifiers in 2009.

A year later, he made every Gambian proud by regaining the lost glory with the team as he eventually led them to their second appearance in this competition despite all odds and the hardship he and the team endured throughout the qualifying campaign.

It is also interesting to note that even the team’s outstanding performances during a problem qualifying campaign did not convince the football authorities that this team can achieve the desired results.

But hardly anyone would ever forget a bad preparation for a national team of such quality than this, despite their commitment in honouring the national duty with only little reward.