|Gambia coach, Paul Put (pix:cafonline)|
Gambia went into the game with heads held low and hoping to gain nothing near a qualification spot, having shamefully lost to Namibia in Windhoek earlier.
On Saturday, the players, being mentally prepared to play for pride even lost a great part of it hence the belief was a win will do just that, with favourites Burkina Faso, who topped Group F, grabbing a late equalizer owing to a lack of concentration or determination at the Scorpion’s defence.
With a few clear cut chances, Gambia’s defender Omar Jawo rise-up to the challenge, heading home a long throw from defended Pa Modou Jagne after one hour into the game, with a few fans, some of whom were mobilized from the National Youth Service Scheme (NYSS) driven in a celebratory mood.
But celebrations were brought to a halt 30 minutes later when the ageing Burkina Faso striker Moumouni Dagano fired past goalkeeper Musa Camara with Gambia defenders Jawo and Jagne staring, having given him all the time in the world to punish them.
After the game, Gambia coach Paul Put dashed his way out of the stadium without waiting for the post match presser, a move that shows a lack of respect for one of sports most important partners, the media. This was the first time the exorbitantly paid (€12,000) coach Put decided not to speak to the press.
His opposite number, Burkina coach Paulo Duarte says he was surprised that Gambia succumbs to defeat in Windhoek, saying Namibia is not a good team.
Though a CAF-ruling pending on their heads, following an appeal by Namibia over the eligibility of Cameroon-born defender, Zenge, the Burkinabe are perceived as the immediate winners of the Group. “They are just talking,” coach Duarte said of Namibia in response to a question on the issue.
If Namibia succeeds in their appeal, Burkina will forfeit six points to the Brave Warriors, who would emerge Group winners and qualifies for Gabon and Equatorial Guinea and Gabon 2012. However, it has been speculated that CAF is likely to throw away the appeal, in fact, the ruling, which was scheduled for end September, is rather taking longer than necessary.
Meanwhile, the blame game continues in Banjul over the jeopardized campaign of all national teams, especially that of the Senior National Team, the Scorpions. With chances of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup apparently a “mare dream”, frictions reportedly between the handlers of the game, the sports ministry and the Gambia Football Association, Gambia’s football hopes remain an “unlikely achievable dream.”
Author: Modou S. Joof for The Voice Newspaper