Scorpions feted at state dinner to celebrate historic AFCON qualification

Apr 1, 2021, 12:21 PM

The Gambia Government on Tuesday hosted a state dinner in honour of the country’s senior national team to celebrate their historic qualification to the African Cup of Nations for the first time in their history.

The Scorpions defeated Angola 1-0 in their tricky Group D qualifier clash played at the Independence Stadium in Bakau last Thursday to snatch qualification to the continent’s bi-annual biggest football festivity to be hosted in Cameroon next year.

The dinner was attended by the First Lady Fatou Bah-Barrow on behalf of President Adama Barrow and several cabinet ministers amongst which include the Sports minister, Tourism Minister, Information minister, minister for Gender, Fisheries Minister and government Spokesperson.

The President of the Gambia Football Federation, Lamin Kaba Bajo, his first-vice President  Bakary K. Jammeh, third-vice President, General Lang Tombong Tamba, Sadibu Kamaso, an ExCo Member as well as staff of Football House were also in attendance.

Speaking at the dinner, the president of The Gambia Football Federation (GFF), Lamin Kabba Bajo hailed the efforts of all Gambians for their support.

Bajo added that the journey was very rough but because they sticked to their goals and objectives, thus, the reason for the reason successes in the country’s football.

Her Excellency the First Lady of The Gambia, Fatoumatta Bah Barrow assured the Scorpions of President Barrow’s undiluted support to help in the advancement of Gambian football.

She hailed the efforts of the team for the remarkable achievement, adding that their efforts will be rewarded handsomely by the President.

Minister of Youth and Sports, Bakary Y. Badjie reaffirmed that when cabinet reconvenes, they will discuss and come to an agreement as to the form of compensation they will give to the players as a qualification bonus.

He disclosed that this could be either cash or kind.

Minister of Fisheries and Water Resources James Gomez and minister of Tourism and Culture Amat N.K Bah made both expressed government’s commitment to sports development in the country.

Captain Pa Modou Jagne hailed the efforts of his team-mates and the coaching staff, noting that they want to give a good account of themselves at the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations to be hosted in Cameroon.

For his part, head coach Tom Saintfiet said his dream to coach The Gambia dates way back to 15 years ago when he signed ex-Scorpion Mustapha Kamal Ndow to play for his Cypriot top flight team.

The Belgian, 48, who extended his contract by another five years on Monday, said his next target is to secure a first World Cup spot for the country in 2026.

“I’ve worked with many boards and this GFF Board is the best in the whole world in terms of support, knowledge of what they want and the commitment to develop football.

There is also an impressive input from the ministry.

We couldn’t do it alone so everyone was part of the success, most especially all the players, who were the reason I came here.

The Gambia is the smiling coast of Africa and I’m honoured to be the smiling coach of The Gambia,” he added.