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Opinion: ‘Bonu Johnson is the Right Man for the Scorpions job’

Jan 10, 2012, 2:09 PM

Tijan Masanneh Ceesay, veteran football commentator/sports journalist, has said The Gambia’s Scorpions are in good hands following the recent appointment of Peter Bonu Johnson as head coach of the national team.

“Peter Bonu Johnson is the right man for the top job,” Ceesay added.

Bonu Johnson, the former Gambia national U-17 and U-20 teams boss, has been given the task of leading The Gambia’s Scorpions to the next AFCON finals among other responsibilities for an initial period of one-year in which he will be working closely with an experienced foreign coach to help him in his duties, according to the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

However Bonu’s appointment to the Scorpions top job has generated a lot of public debate with the majority of the pundits criticising the move by the Youth and Sports ministry.

But Tijan Masaneh Ceesay, a renowned football commentator and an influential figure in Gambia sport, especially football, has given his opinion of Bonu’s recent appointment at the helm of affairs.

The following is an highlight of the full detail of Mr Ceesay’s comments:

The Gambian Sports waves have been buzzing lately with the appointment of Peter Bonu Johnson as Head Coach for the senior national Scorpions. Evidently what should have been a real victory and vindication for local Gambian coaches has become a rather murky situation with some mudslinging and misguided statements coming from some corners of the footballing spectrum.

However, it is convincing to note that the man in Gambian Football and by far one of Africa’s most respectable football personalities is Alhagie O.B. Conateh, who has stepped forward and dilated positively on this appointment. Along with him is one of Gambia’s most celebrated football commentators and Sports Journalist - my very distinguished colleague Peter Gomez, who, like me, believes deep down in his Heart that, given the “right’ support and tools, Bonu can get the job done.

Compelled by the numerous emails from some of my colleagues in the sports media fraternity, I feel obligated to come out and support all those who stand behind this appointment, which is a step in the right direction.

While the stigma remains that only a foreign coach can improve our football prowess, which realistically is a taboo if we take the success of foreign coaches into account; this is the right time to nurture our own and ensure that we give them the tools and environment to become dominant like their colleagues in countries like Ghana, because ours are equally on the same pedestal as their counterparts in other jurisdictions within the sub-region.

Bonu Johnson, if we look at his record, is by far the most successful Gambian Coach. He has not only won the African Junior Football Championships, but has also held his own in Canada when it mattered; I bet the Portuguese Football Association has an enormous amount of respect for Bonu.

Even after a brief hiatus, he came back and resuscitated a programme that was hanging on to dear life in The Gambia Ports Authority. To me what this demonstrates is Johnson’s ability to turn things around.

If you know the guy, he is one tough stud. Besides he is as equally qualified on paper with a Class A Licence as all these NO NAME foreign coaches who made the shortlist. You look at their records, it’s simple: Bonu has won at the world’s grandest football stage and I’d leave it at that.

While I sense some political bickering and gerrymandering, which I want no part of, I want to say unequivocally without any reservation that the authorities made the right call, one that I have agitated for many years. At this point in time, who got informed of what and who didn’t matters not. Developing our football is what counts and I do believe that those entrusted with administrating football in The Gambia share my view or they would not have been volunteering and taking the heat for so long.

What is the way forward? Indeed it is one that originates from the Quadrangle via the FA Headquarters and unto Independence Stadium (Stade Alhagie Njie Biri if I had my own way) with all the Chinese floodlights beaming on the glorious future of Gambian football.

Simply put, we must hold those responsible for administrating football in The Gambia accountable. The game is way bigger than any one individual, and lack of cooperation and dialogue will not only hinder the progress of Gambian football but will also hold the gallant fans hostage and YES it is their game.

In sum, this is the time to rally behind one of our own. We do have competent people that can be part of his support cast. Bonu Johnson has what it takes and the old Wollof adage applies in this case: “NDANKA NDANKA, JAPPA GOLO.” I am out, and extend my personal best wishes for the New Year to all Gambian football fans and my many fans around the world!

Finally I want to just deviate from football for a second and send my shout out to my Odilleh Hunting Society, the Barcelona of Hunting, for yet another great victory!


Tijan Masanneh Ceesay sat next to Gambian football Icon Saul Njie for many years as a young Radio Gambia football commentator. He also founded and managed Roots Football Club and has produced many former internationals most notable among them are Aziz Corr, Sheikh Ndure, Mustapha Minteh, James Freeman, Saul Faye, Badou Samba and Boy Badou Nyang. Though away, he stays in touch with Gambian football on a regular basis and has contributed numerous football features in football journals.