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‘I see no reason why U17 cannot emulate the U20’

Oct 28, 2010, 12:27 PM | Article By: Lamin Drammeh

The head coach of the Gambia national U-17 team, Lamin Sambou, has told Pointsport that he sees no reason why the Gambia national U17 team cannot emulate the national U-20 in qualifying for international championship tournaments, as preparations for their final qualifying rounds against Tunisia continue to gather pace.

The country’s success at the youth level has been dominated by the U17 team who have already achieved two African U17 youth championship titles in Banjul and Algiers in 2005 and 2009 respectively.

But the U20 side, who made an unsuccessful attempt to win the African U20 title in their first appearance in Congo Brazaville in 2007, made every Gambian proud by being the first team from the continent to book their ticket to the Libya tournament with an impressive 4-1 aggregate win over Young Elephants of Ivory Coast at the weekend.

In an exclusive interview with this reporter shortly after leading the two times African champions to a 1-nil win over Pencha Bi of Serrekunda West in a friendly match at the Serrekunda East Mini Stadium yesterday morning, Lamin Sambou, also known as Alas, said: “I see no reason why the U17 cannot emulate the U20 team’s success by progressing to the championship.”

Sambou, who guided the U17 team to a 3-2 aggregate success over Morocco during the first leg, said the U17 team have “the ability and the manpower” to qualify.

“This is a team that has made every Gambian proud as manifested by their outstanding achievement in their previous results at the continental level and I am quite hopeful that the team can retain the title at the expense of their next opponents Algeria,” Sambou, who assisted the then head coach of the U17 team Tarik Siagy in the Algerian championship, said confidently.

Sambou is however aware of the fact that more effort is needed to ensure qualification, particularly the need to inculcate technical, tactical and psychological disciplines in the minds of each and every member of the squad.

Talking about the prospects of achieving the desired result against Tunisia, Sambou said Tunisia would not be an easy opponent but remains optimistic about the Gambian team’s chance of making it into the championship once again.