Bad Leadership, Stubbornness and lack of talent: the factors that doomed Gambia’s Football.
By Bulli Sowe
Every result that could have doomed them on Tuesday night came about, with Algeria’s respective wins combining with the Gambia’s own 0-1 loss at already eliminated Benin and the resurrected Togolese side respectively.
But before the autopsy begins in earnest, below are some of the things that consigned The Gambia to desperate failure. First and foremost is Gambia’s vulnerability to home defeats in nearly all our Qualifications the best result we can get at home is a draw. That’s unacceptable.
Recently, home defeats to Togo and Draw to Algeria.The Togo loss, especially, coming when it did, put the Gambia in a position in which they absolutely needed a miracle to advance or no chance of advancing.The draw against a strong and formidable Algerian side wasn’t that bad at home but what’s unfortunate was Gambia conceding against Togo in a crucial Away match at the dying minute when we were already leading with a maximum point.
What that all means is that taking care of business at home is paramount. Win your home games, and you’re in, no matter what happens on those pesky road trips.
The Gambia failed to obey that cardinal rule.
The other factor is Lack of difference-makers in their primes. We relied heavily on overrated players and this has been a decade-long tradition going back to the Jatto Ceesay, Ebou Silah( all overrated) and over-age during their so-called heydays.The Scorpions Squad are plagued by a puzzling dearth of talent between the ages of 23 and 27. The reasons behind that glaring development gap are myriad and the GFF ebbs and flows with its talent production at the domestic level. When will the GFF give us a Gambian Sadio Mane_but its impact is clear enough anytime we played against our neighbors.We relied heavily on aging or under-age youths like Musa Barrow and Lamin Jallow who are yet to be in their prime.They are young, and sometimes inconsistent, like when they struggled to establish themselves in that aforementioned Algeria match.
Such are the dangers of leaning too heavily on players either on the back end of their careers or still growing into their prime.Don’t expect much from these cohort of players.
The Gambia’s stubborn willingness to stick with coaches through more than one qualifying cycle cost us greatly.
Coaches made mistakes, without question, in terms of player selection, in terms of tactics, in terms of preparation. And yet, it is impossible to avoid the suspicion that all of this is more deep-seated than poor team selection,or just one underwhelming managerial tenure.To write off this collapse as merely a function of a down talent cycle is to be far too lenient on the powers that be. Even without difference-makers in that age group, this team can still pull up something to qualify or gain second place. We have a good number of them playing great football in Europe’s first and second division leagues. Blame should be pointed squarely at the Sport ministry and GFF who has been hiring and firing coaches like no man’s business and the politicizing of our sporting institutions must stopped.
It is now apparent that Kaba Bajo is the worst disaster to have inflicted Gambian football. Gambia will not be at the Africa Cup of Nations. The country’s U20 and U17 also failed to qualify for continental competitions next year.If Bajo still has any honour left in him, he should resign as GFF president by the next 24 hours. And if he failed to do so, the executive committee should impeach him and where they too fail to do so,Gambians should rise up and chase them away. All our teams will not be in action in Africa.And all these are because of the evil that has beset our football.Just one person’s selfish and personal ambitions have mortgaged the fortunes of Gambian football right from when he got to power through the back door.Should we continue to accept apologies from these people?No. We should chase them out.
The under-funding of grassroots football by THE GFF is something we must all address. Meanwhile, pitches are falling to pieces at the local level or sometimes there are no pitches at all. Facilities are rotting, and local clubs are winding up at an unprecedented rate. Most of these Kids faced with the prospect of playing their football in such dreadful conditions are looking elsewhere for their sporting activity.
But Even what’s more hackneyed is the idea that some of our players does not care, that because they’ve spent so much time away from The Gambia, now they somehow lacks the requisite passion to represent his nation as in the case of Barrow, Barry and Colley (BBC) whose presence would have make great impact especially our match vs Algeria at home and away to Togo.The Sense of Patriotism is still lacking in most of our youths and this tell us more about the boys entrusted to represent the Gambia on international stage.
Taken together, it’s fine to acknowledge that this was a remarkable bit of ill fortune to swallow.
My verdict on all this, Gambian football is doomed.