May 15, 2017, 11:57 AM
The Gambia National U-20 team began their 17th African U-20 Orange Championship with a convincing and emphatic 4-1 thumping of Shooting Stars of Sierra Leone in the first leg of the (CHAN) qualifying campaign, at the Independence Stadium in Bakau on Saturday.
The U-20 team under the tutelage of local coach Lamin Sarr and his outstanding men overcame a slow start to the game to celebrate a deserved 4-1 victory at the expense of the visitors (Sierra Leone), thanks to goals from Mamut Saine, Alasana Camara and a brace from substitute Buba Jallow (Melez), to help the boys get-off to a perfect start to the campaign. Sarr who has been given the U-20 managerial position for the second successive year, despite his failed attempt to lead the team to last year's U-20 championship has his substitution paid dividend, as substitutes Lamin Sarjo Samateh, Mustapha Jatta and (Melez) continued to make a huge impact in the second period scoring a brace to give the Gambian side a comfortable win to the delight of Sheriff Gomez, the Youth and Sports Minister who was seen celebrating the boys' heroic performance at his VIP seat. Just before then it was the visitors that upset the home team with an early lead when Donald Wilington scored from a close-range effort with only 25th minutes on the clock, as a result of a defensive error from the Gambian team. But the situation turned from bad to worst for the Shooting Stars, allowing Mamut Saine to cancel their advantage in the dying minutes of the first period with a solo effort.
Sierra Leone who arrived in Banjul with the intention of maintaining their perfect start to the campaign have eliminated Algeria in the preliminary round of the same competition with a 2-1 aggregate last May occasionally went close to adding to their tally. But all their brilliant attacking options and early dominance in the middle were not good enough to earn them a happy moment, thus conceding a humiliating 4-1 defeat in the process.
Buba Jallow, one of the key figures with the former U-17 team was again the hero of Saturday's mouth-watering encounter as he netted on his first contribution to the game in the 68th minute and the stoppage time with Babucarr Jatta setting up The Gambia's third goal for Alasana Camara to smash home a brilliant strike.
It was a moment of brilliance from the entire members of the coaching staff and the players, in particular, despite the exclusion of some key men, including few professional players, such as Sainey Mboge and Pa Sulay Njie from the squad.