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Senegal Must Fall

Oct 8, 2008, 5:15 AM

The Gambia is about to break the jinx of Senegal's invincibility. On Saturday, the Scorpions will be taking on the Lions of Senegal in a match that will decide the fate of both countries in the ongoing 2010 World Cup/Nations Cup qualifiers.

Of course, Senegal is a soccer powerhouse on the continent. In 2002, they stunned the world by inflicting a humiliating defeat o defending champions - France. They then went on to the quarterfinals. They and Cameroon are on record as the only African countries that have gone that far in the World Cup.

So The Gambia is up against a formidable adversary. This adversary is going to the battlefield on Saturday for two reasons. One, to get to the second stage of the qualifying round. Two, to preserve their pride as The Gambia's soccer superior. It is this combination of these two factors that has made them to recall their old war-horse - the great Khalilou Fadiga himself. With Fadiga marshalling the midfield, Diouf running rings round the opponents, and Henri Camara breaking down defences, Senegal can be dangerous any day.

But The Gambia must not be intimidated. For one thing, there is always a first time. Perhaps, The Gambia will make history on Saturday by defeating Senegal in their own backyard. And to add insult to injury, that defeat will seal Senegal's fate!

Just as the Senegalese are prepared to salvage their pride at all costs, so the Scorpions must spare no effort knock Senegal off its pedestal, at least for the first time. If Senegal could defeat France, against all expectations, in 2002, why can The Gambia humble the imperial Lions of Teranga?

There is no doubt that the mood in the Scorpions' camp is positive and optimistic. The coach is not scared; the boys are brimful of confidence - can't wait for Saturday to come in order to inflict irreparable damage on Senegal. "But mark you, The Gambia too have a good team with lots of youngsters who are hungry for success." The coach's comments parallel the mood of the nation. Gambians are hungry for success, as never before.

It is clear that the Lions of Teranga are nervous, hence they have called back Fadiga to fortify their team. But the Fadiga, Diouf and Henri Camara of 2002 have aged and worn out; they are no longer as threatening as they were before. The Scorpions have to capitalise on this soft spot to press home their advantage.

Senegal must fall on Saturday. And The Gambia must rise - now and forever.