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National U-17 qualifiers inches closer

Aug 7, 2010, 9:04 PM | Article By: Lamin Drammeh

(Thursday, 5th August 2010 issue)
The qualifying round of the African U-17 Cadet Championship in Rwanda 2011 is ever inching closer as the two time African U-17 champions continue an intensive preparatory programme, ahead of what promises to produce a cracking encounter away to Morocco on the weekend of 27th, 28th and 29th August 2010 in Casablanca.

The U-17 team, which is undoubtedly the most successful national team the country has ever produced with two continental titles to its name, among other international accolades, has since two months ago began a preparatory effort ahead of the Morocco tie with over 60 players who were cut down to 30.

After several weeks of an intensive screening exercise, the technical staff, headed by the Egyptian Coach Tarik Siagy assisted by Lamin Sambou and two other local coaches in the names of Samger's Jane Joof and Ebrima Manneh of Interior has made a few exclusions from the previous squad.

Jane, who guided Samger to a super cup title after beating Wallidan 2-1 at the Brikama Box Bar Mini-stadium two years ago, said every player has been given the chance to prove himself during the trial, but most of them did not excel as expected. As a result, they were omitted from the provisional squad.

Joof whose managerial style is admired by many football followers went further to defend the U-17 team selection by saying that he thinks as technicians they have selected the best players out of the lots, given the fact that they have been with all the selected players for a very long time. This, he added, has served as an added advantage during the selection period.

The Samger technician, however, remains confident about the U-17 team's possibility of repeating stunning performances which saw them caught the eyes of the whole world at the continental level.

"We need to work very hard to have a team that can always repeat the performance in the previous years, that is why we have been very much observant with the way we select the players for the qualifiers, in a bid to maintain that impressive performance," said Joof. He was speaking yesterday at the team's training ground at the Serrekunda East Mini-stadium.

The U-17 team remains the country's most impressive national team, and of course a threat to a host of other big footballing nations beating the likes of Brazil in Peru in 2005.

They continued to make a huge impact in various youth championships, and in the process became the two times African champions. The Baby Scorpions as they are widely called secured a 1-nil win over Ghana to record their first U-17 title in Banjul in 2005. They went on to record a historic 3-1 win over Algeria to lift their second cadet championship title in Algiers three years later.

They are one of the firm favourites to qualify for the 2011 tournament in Rwanda once again.

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