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Gambia's U-17 Early Exit, The Way Forward

Nov 16, 2009, 3:55 PM | Article By: Mamudou Max Jallow, UK

I watched The Gambia U-17 team's early exit to the current World Cup in Nigeria with sympathy and at the same time with a strong conviction that the problem can be addressed to maintain being a very strong challenger in that category of sports.

The Gambia U-17 team has done their level best to win the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations twice and participated in the U-17 World Cup twice within five years, which is a significant achievement.

Football analysts need to inform the Gambian community about the key factors which had led to their early exist and come up with comprehensive plans for the football association to adopt. The GFA has done their level best with the Coach and his technical team, but if the U-17 team could not meet the required fitness to challenge other nations, due to their inexperienced and inadequate preparedness, that is an issue to be addressed in due course.

For the GFA to own to their poor performance is not the solution to the problem. We need to analyze the situation holistically and come up with sustainable plans to maintain better U-17 football teams for good.

Of course, the late conduct of the MRI test has been attributed to the main cause of their poor performance.

It took long time to do the test, compared to Nigeria. The Gambia U-17, which has been the favourite team in Africa to win the World Cup should have been well prepared for the tournament. Early preparation in any sporting competition is very important in the success of a team.
The greatest setbacks to early preparation for our national teams, both junior and senior teams has always been attributed to the lack of funds, according to the GFA President, Seedy Kinteh. This is the truth.

The preparations of the junior and senior teams for international competitions need to be much improved. A concerted effort need to be made to retain the Africa U-17 title in our beloved country.

Therefore, the way forward now for the FA is to concentrate on how to build a stronger U-17 team, U-20 and national teams.

The FA and all football academies in the country, as well as the secondary school sports committee needs to work together to scout talented young players and recruit them for national duty. To this end, the country shall never be a looser or lack talented players for our national teams.

We should learn from the early exit of the U-17 team in the World Cup and develop a comprehensive mechanism to improve rather than engage in war of words that would make football fans and sponsors loose faith in supporting the progress of the Gambian football.

Let us note that there is no turning back, no surrender until victory is done. The Gambia will forever continue to participate in similar tournaments as long as the FA is able to effectively manage Gambian football.

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