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‘Ivory Coast are favourites, Gambia underdogs’

Jun 7, 2013, 10:49 AM | Article By: Cherno Omar Bobb

Scorpions head coach Peter Bonu Johnson has said ahead of tomorrow’s crucial encounter between the Scorpions and the Elephants of Ivory Coast in the 2014 World Cup Qualifiers that Ivory Coast are the favourites and the Scorpions the underdogs.

Bonu, who was speaking yesterday at a pre-match media briefing at the Seaview Hotel ahead of the game, said despite being underdogs the Scorpions will give a respectable performance.

Recognising that the Ivory Coast are the best ranked team in Africa, Bonu said the Gambian side respect them and know their potentials but will put up a respectable performance to defend the flag of the nation.

The Scorpions, he added, are set to exploit the weaknesses of the Elephants of Ivory Coast and to stop and frustrate their areas of strength tomorrow.

Ivory Coast are favourites and The Gambia the underdogs,” Bonu said, but they will put up a respectable performance.

Appointed head coach of Scorpions just under a week, Bonu is challenged with facing Ivory Coast, Africa’s best ranked team.

He said: “Whenever the challenge comes we have to take it and work hard in the interest of our nation and that is what is important.”

Bonu, who confirmed that he has called one of the most experienced coaches in The Gambia, Sang Ndong, to assist him in the game against Ivory Coast, said being appointed head coach is just a continuity of his service to the country’s national squad as he has been serving together with former head coach Luciano Mancini.

He also called on the players to give their very best for the nation on Saturday, saying football is what happens in the field of play and that on Saturday they will prove they can perform to expectations.

The former Gambia Ports Authority tactician also confirmed that apart from the absentees, such as Mustapha Carayol, Ebrima Sawaneh, Macoumba Kandji and Pa Dembo Touray, the invited players were in camp except Ali Sowe who was expected to jet into Banjul as of press time Thursday.

He noted that the invited players are playing regularly with their respective clubs and will get those who are doing extremely well to play for the country, to ensure a good and well coordinated football throughout the game that will earn the nation success.

“Everything has been going well since I took over as head coach,” Bonu said, adding that he is proud of the players he has invited even though Ivory Coast are a good side.

The players, he said further, have been responding well in training and he hopes they do well on Saturday.

Kalifa Manneh, team doctor for the Scorpions, said the entire team is injury-free after he had successfully diagnosed Momodou Ceesay who had a knock below his knee in his club’s final game prior to coming, and realised he is fit to play on Saturday.