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Scorpions: Only A Point Will Do?

Sep 15, 2008, 6:35 AM | Article By: Coach Ebou Faye

The emphatic 3 nil trouncing of Liberia by the superb Scorpions has lifted the specter of many people's misconstrued opinion of categorizing the Scorpions as underachievers. Even though the fans failed to turn-up to support the Scorpions, those who were there had the privilege to watch the Scorpions at their most deadly best. The Coach, Paul Put has created a side well suited to be dominant in African senior football. A team strong on discipline, organization and work ethic. The team was full of legitimate aggression, pressing the ball to deny the Liberians time and space. Textbook stuff.

Njogu Demba was in colossal form, running with pace and power in the channels to score his first goal for the Scorpions and on the flanks giving the Liberians defence a torrid time which led him to unselfishly set up the second goal for Ousman Jallow's first goal for the Scorpions. It was a high-class performance with major contributions everywhere. The defence was solid, the midfield worked to keep the Liberians on the back foot and both Ebou Sillah and Aziz Corr afforded the strikers intelligent support up front, which created the third goal. But the question is 'it is enough'.

The Gambia at the moment are in second position with 8 points and an aggregate of plus 3 goals. Senegal are 8 points and an aggregate of 2 goals. Senegal has a better goal scored - 8 and The Gambia scored - 5. At the moment we are in a dream position to qualify for the next group stage but failure to get a point in Senegal will leave all of us gnashing our teeth and paying the ultimate price of the Scorpion not defeating Senegal in The Gambia. If the Scorpions had won that game we would be laughing all the way to the bank going to Senegal

According to CAF, tricky calculations will be employed for the eight best teams ranked second. The following system will be adopted to rank fairly teams ranked second in the groups of 4 or 3:

"The points and goal difference that the second-placed teams had against the fourth-placed team will be erased. These new totals will then be used to determine the eight best runners-up, using points gained and then goal difference, and then goals scored."

This simply means that after the completion of the preliminary group matches whereby the second place is already decided, the results of the Liberians will be canceled out. I.e. the points and goals gained from the Liberian team will be irrelevant. Which simply means for The Gambia that the 4 points 4 goals gained from the Liberians and 1 goal conceded will no longer be counted, but only the 3 points 1 goal scored against Algeria and 1 goal conceded and the 1 point gain from Senegal and depending on the outcome in Senegal?

If the calculation is applied with the current team standings, the Scorpions will qualify with 4 points as only four countries have more points. That is why it is imperative for the Scorpions to at least get a point in Senegal to usher Gambian football into a new era of becoming a top dog in African football. We can definitely beat Senegal and break the jinx and domination of Senegal against us if only we don't allow Senegal to intimidate us. Senegal know that Gambians have a short fuse and they always create an environment which causes us to lose our concentration as happened the last time in Dakar. This time we have to be professional whatever the circumstances and to be professional we have to keep our temper.

The Teranga Lions are under pressure, they lack confidence and conviction. The Teranga lions are a team of individuals, whereas the Scorpions are, in all respects a team. It is an important difference. The Scorpions attack as a team and defend as a team. There are clear links between defence and attack that makes them so effective and thorough in meeting all the demands of the game. They are a complete unit and hungry to make history. All these attributes will be needed in the first 25 minutes of the match as Senegal will come out with all guns blazing. The Scorpions strategy should be disciplined as well as decisive, because winning the ball and keeping it should be the main priority. Not losing it. Not making reckless tackles around our box as the Senegalese biggest strength are set pieces which they are going to take advantage of any opportunity. Mistimed tackles in the heat of the moment, can be the difference between winning and losing.

It is not going to be easy but this match is about pride, self-respect, integrity and a willingness to do whatever it takes to qualify for the next group stage.

Coach Ebou Faye