|Gambia's Belgian Coach Paul Put and GFA Officials|
And talks of a ruling by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) going in Gambia’s favour are just mare dreams, however, Gambia’s coach Paul Put has refused to admit this.
Namibia wrote to the Pan-African Football Body in March after they suffered a defeat to Burkina at home, complaining Burkina’s Cameroon-born defender Zengue is ineligible to play for Burkina. The player at the center of the appeal was fielded in both legs between to two nations, and if CAF decides to uphold or dismiss the appeal, Namibia or Burkina Faso will qualify from Group F.
In an interview with CAF’s official website, cafonline after he led the Gambia Scorpions to a devastating defeat, put said: “Depending on how CAF rules in the Namibia-Burkina Faso case, and how we do at home against Burkina Faso, we might have a chance if it all goes in our favour. We still have a dream and it lives on until the final day, we have one more game and that counts a lot for us.”
During a press conference organized by Gambia Football Association (GFA) on Monday September 12 to discuss the “national team’s flop” in a 1-0 defeat to Namibia in Windhoek on September 3, The Voice newspaper News Editor and Desk Head Sports asked Mr Put how can a CAF ruling be in Gambia’s favour.
“I don’t want to implore on this issue”, said Paul Put, who maintains that “we still had a chance if CAF make a decision in our favour.”
“If CAF makes a decision in our favour, we will take it with both hands and we will be thankful, but we cannot just base on these things at the right moment. We have to wait until they (CAF) have a meeting. But one thing I can assure you, is that the players have the will to qualify,” Put said. “We will continue because I know that if it is not now, then we will qualify the next. We lost the battle but we did not loose the war. What I mean is that the next qualifying round is just at the corner and we still have a game to play.”
|Gambia coach Paul Put|
“The whole team did not perform to my expectation except the goalkeeper Pa Dembo Touray and I cannot change the whole team, that is impossible,” he said. “In the whole world, no team can avoid defeat. It was caused by nature and we have to accept it. Like I said, we lost the battle but we did not loose the war, but I never expected my team to perform like that.”
The Gambian coach, who was dejected by the results in Namibia, was quoted by cafonline to have said: “I am so disappointed with the results and how the team played today. We needed to win this match but we couldn’t do it and now our destiny is not in our hands anymore. Secondly, I believe my players today did not reach their levels of potential and this cost us the game. We should have played better than this.”
For now, Gambia’s chances of making a debut in the African Cup of Nations to be hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in January next year “hangs on a balance of probabilities”. And a second place spot with six points (provided that we beat Burkina at home in our last game) may not just be enough for the team to secure one of the “two second best places up for grab.”
With one more game to play against Burkina Faso, which leads Group F with nine points, Gambia and Namibia (played all matches) are tied on three points.
- Author: Modou S. Joof for The Voice newspaper