The Scorpions booked their place in the continent’s biggest football fiesta after defeating Angola 1-0 in a tightly-contested qualifier tie played at the Independence Stadium in Bakau last Thursday.
Thanks to Assan Ceesay’s 62nd minute strike.
Pap Saine, who is fondly called Encyclopedia of Gambian football, was speaking during a dinner by the Gambia government hosted through the Ministry of Youth and Sports held at Tamala Hostel in Senegambia.
Saine gave a brief history about when and how the Gambia started participating in the Afcon qualifiers.
Mr. Saine stated that The Gambia first participated in the afcon preliminary rounds for in 1975 but were eliminated by Morocco 2-0 defeat in the first-leg fixture played in Banjul and 3-0 defeat in the second-leg tie played in Rabat.
He added that The Gambia attempted 14 times in the Afcon preliminary rounds but to no avail, adding that it is during this generation that qualified the country to their first-ever Afcon tournament.
“We participated in the qualifiers 14 times but failed, we withdrew twice due to financial reasons in 1996 and 2000 respectively,’’ Saine said.
“We were also suspended in 1988, when the teams were expanded after Guinea-Bissau Zone Two.”
Mr. Saine added that The Gambia were suspended in 2014 due to age-cheating, noting that the country has learnt a lot for their mistakes.
‘‘We have some constraints first is finance and second is the technical aspect,’’ Saine pointed out.
“We thank God for qualifying for The Gambia to the Africa Cup of Nations for first time under the leadership of Lamin Kabba Bajo as the president of The Gambia Football Federation GFF and Adama Barrow as the president of The Gambia.
Saine described GFF president Lamin Kabba Bajo and President Adama Barrow as the two luckiest presidents.
Pape Saine was the Press Officer for the Gambia Football Association now called The Gambia Football Federation for 20 years.
He was also a Press Officer for the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for 8 years.
Saine covered the Africa Cup of Nations 16 times and the World Cup three times.