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Paul Put speaks

Jan 15, 2010, 1:50 PM | Article By: Lamin Drammeh & Sainabou Kujabi

Paul Put head coach of the senior national team has called for more support for the national team, in its bid to win a ticket to the next African Nations in 2012, the World Cup in 2014, as well as other continental championships.

Paul Put led the Scorpions close to booking a place in the 2010 African Nations Cup finals under way in Angola, after snatching a historic 1-1 draw in the continental and World Cup qualifiers against neighbours Senegal in Dakar in October 2008.

The Belgian tactician spoke to Pointsport after returning home from Tunisia, where he guided The Gambia to its 1st home international friendly win over Tunisia.

In the interview, Paul Put pointed out that the senior national team needs every Gambian support, citing the importance of the media in the development of sports in any nation.

"We are really counting on the media in terms of disseminating accurate information to the general pubic with regards to the team's performance, so that the country's name will be in the world map in terms of football at senior level category," he said.

Paul Put who signed a new four-year extension to his contract last summer, thanks to the government's intervention, believes it is important to be playing a lot of international friendly matches against power houses in world football like Angola and Tunisia.

It would be recalled that The Gambia made history after beating the Nations Cup finalists - Tunisia at home and drawing one all with Angola in Lisbon - both matches played in January 2010 just days before the opening of the Nations Cup.

The coach for the senior national football team says such encounters will go a long way in the country's efforts to berth a place in future Nations Cup, as well as major world championships such as the World Cup and Olympics.

"If we want to catch up with other leading countries in world football, we need to prepare as much as possible to make our dream of qualifying to all these tournaments a reality, and I am hopeful that with enough test matches, we will surely make it."

It would be noted that Paul Put has always expressed his desire to leave a legacy in the country's sports, by taking The Gambia to all the big tournaments before the end of his stay in this country he admires so much.

"Winning at home to Tunisia," the Belgian tactician added, "coupled with an impressive 1-1 draw against Angola in Portugal is a fantastic recognition and, indeed, a historic feat taken into consideration the level of Tunisia and Angola, both regulars in continental football tournaments.

He was referring to the fact that if you compare Tunisia's football standard to the Gambia, you realise that Tunis is far better than the Gambia considering the Nations Cup appearances.

Tunisia has made five World Cup and 13 Nations Cup appearances, as well as being a one-time CAF Confederation Cup winner, whereas the Gambia has so far failed to participate in any of these tournaments.

Gambia's other opponent in the just-ended friendly matches, Angola, has also made a big impact in the area of football, managing to participate in the Nations Cup despite a civil war which has disrupted the country's football for over a decade. 

Despite, little Gambia has proven a better side than  the two teams, as manifested in their  matches, after only seven days' preparation compared to their opponents who have been preparing themselves over the past 6-7 months, as well as the quality players at their disposal.

"What was very positive about the friendlies was the fact that the Gambian side was rated as being well organised  by  the coaches of our opponents,  and has now gained more recognition in Europe and Africa," he explained.

Paul Put who wants to put an end to Gambia's lack of Nations Cup and World Cup appearances went  further to emphasized the need for the players to have discipline and commitment, since they are serving as ambassadors of the Gambian people.

Asked about the prospects of recalling the Scorpions duo, striker Momodou Ceesay and midfielder Aziz Corr Nyang, who were  earlier reported to be showing less commitment to national duty by the Belgian tactician, Paul responded by saying that he needs players who are committed and willing to sacrifice for this country and, therefore, ruled out the possibility of the duo re-joining the team.

"I am confident with the players I have and, hopefully, they can bring glory to the nation," Paul Put told Pointsport.

He further spoke of his ambition to organise another friendly international match on March 3rd including a 10-day training camp in June.

"We are in talks with Manchester City to see if there could be a possibility to get offers of accommodation and other necessary arrangements for the training camp in June all  geared toward the teams early preparation," the ambitious Scorpions coach highlighted.

He explained that the Gambia cannot host international matches because of the poor condition of the nation's biggest football arena, the Independence Stadium, coupled with inadequate finances at the level of the Gambia Football Association.

Thus, he said, they need to arrange friendly games away form home.

Paul Put whose contract with the Gambia is expected to run until 2014 told this reporter of his ambition to travel to Europe in order to search for Gambian players for the national team. He also promised to monitor the development of the Manchester United Gambia striker Joshua  King, among other unknown Gambian players plying their trade in various clubs around the world.