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Scorpions Coach: I have clean heart for Gambia

Oct 13, 2011, 4:21 PM | Article By: Lamin Drammeh

Paul Put, head coach of the senior national team of The Gambia, has said his heart for the Gambian leader and the people is clean.

The Belgian tactician, who has made no secret of his ambition to take The Gambia’s Scorpions to their first Nations Cup before his current contract expires, said: “I will never leave this country without fulfilling my promise to President Jammeh and his people by qualifying the Scorpions to their first ever African Cup of Nations final.

Paul, who led the Scorpions to an exciting 1-1 draw against the Stallions of Burkina Faso in the final rounds of the AFCON qualifiers in Banjul at the weekend, added: “Since I was appointed by President Jammeh in 2009, I have made no secret of my desire to qualify the Scorpions to the African Cup of Nations and I will only leave this country when I realise that dream.”

Despite the continual difficulties he is facing ranging from the cancellation of friendly matches to enhancing the team’s preparation among other constraints, Paul has reiterated his commitment and allegiance to the entire Gambian population in an interview with Pointsport yesterday, saying: “No matter what, my love for the Gambian President and the entire population will ever remain unchanged.

”I will quit the day I have doubt in qualifying the Scorpions to the African Cup of Nations and I have a clean heart for the President and his people, which is unquestionable.”

The Belgian-born Gambian coach, who has set his sights on the possibilities of organizing a possible training camp for the team in The Gambia in December, said he is also in connection with match agents to secure at least one or two test games from the countries that have qualified for the AFCON finals, if possible early next year.

He has also vowed to engage the Scorpions in an international friendly match during the Fifa calendar friendly match date in February with the help of the match agents.

He used the interview opportunity to call on the entire Gambian people to help him in his quest for a successful campaign next term, saying: “I will keep fighting to win the battle and I will not leave this country without fulfilling my promise to the President and the Gambian people.”

Paul, who became the first foreign coach of The Gambia to guide the Scorpions to an unbeaten record in the AFCON qualifiers, was first appointed to take charge of The Gambia’s senior national team in 2008 when he inked a one-year contract with the country’s leading GSM operator,  Africell, which was marred by some eye-catching performances.

During his previous contract with Africell to coach the national team, Paul did enough in his first year in charge to convince the Gambian leader President Jammeh and was eventually offered a massive four-year deal by the President which started on a high note as he led the Scorpions to an impressive 3-1 win at the expense of Namibia but his hope of finishing the job right in Windhoek proved unsuccessful.

He returned to Banjul together with his charges and later prepared to face Burkina Faso in Ougadougou but he failed in his attempt to guide the team to any positive result although his Scorpions side played a pulsating 1-1 draw against the Mighty Stallions team in Banjul at the weekend.

He has asked for enough time to improve the standard of football in the country, saying even a top coach in the world like Sir Alex struggled to win his first trophy with Manchester United.

“I will give you one good example: Sir Alex Ferguson was appointed as the coach of Manchester United in 1986 but it took him 8 or 9 years to win a trophy for them, which goes to show that every coach needs to be given enough time to do his job right.”

In his effort at putting up a formidable force for The Gambia, Paul Put intends to travel to the Nations Cup so he could watch The Gambia’s group mates for the next World Cup qualifiers, such as Ivory Coast and Morocco, if he is given the opportunity to do so.