Scorpions coach Tom Saintfiet has called up 23 players for the team’s upcoming training camp in Comoros, where they’re scheduled to play two international friendly matches. The camp will be held from August 30 to September 8, 2021.
After having pulled out in previous selections at the eleventh hour due to different circumstances, there is hope that FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk striker Dembo Darboe will finally make his Scorpions debut.
He scored 16 goals in 17 matches this season to lead his Belarusian premier league side to the top of the table with 47 points, three ahead of BATE Borisov, even though the leaders played three games less because of their involvement the UEFA Champions League playoffs.
Darboe is also the league’s leading goal scorer, six ahead of his nearest challenger, Ablaye Mbengue, of Dinamo Minsk. Since turning professional in 2019 with North Macedonian club FC Shkupi, Darboe has played in 58 matches and scored 34 times, the latest being the solo goal he scored in Shakhtyor S 4-0 thrashing of Slavia-Mozyr at the weekend.
Star midfielder Sulayman Marreh is injured, and so too is left-back Omar Gaye, with the latter expected to be out for at least six months. Gaye made an impressive appearance in the last training camp in Turkey, and many expected him to be on the plane to Cameroon. Still, with this lengthy layoff, his participation in Gambia’s maiden African Cup of Nations is now in jeopardy. The duo is replaced by England-based duo Ebou Adams and Ibou Touray, who return to the Scorpions fold following long absences.
Noah Sonko-Sundberg and Maudo Jarjue (Chuka) have recovered from injuries that ruled them out of the June camp and are back in the team, and Abdoulie Sanyang, Bubacarr Jobe, and Lamin Jallow who just moved to Fehevar of Hungary.
AS Roma’s teenage sensation Ebrima Darboe, James Gomez, and Leon Guwara were all impressive in their debut call-ups and have retained their places, while Sampdoria’s Omar Colley will continue to captain the side in the absence of regular skipper Pa Modou Jagne.
Guwara now plays for Jahn Regensburg in the German Bundesliga 2, and they currently top the rankings with a maximum of 12 points from four matches.
Muhammed Badamosi has just returned to full fitness after injury, and the Saint has decided against calling him up this time to get into shape at his club FC Kortrijk. At the same time, Hamza Barry remained a notable absentee as he works towards regaining his full fitness following a long injury layoff.
The other notable absentee is Modou Barrow, who returned to fitness after injury but was left out. Instead, he attempts to engineer a move away from South Korea before the end of the transfer window to secure his AFCON.
The Belgian coach of the Scorpions will prepare his team ahead of next year’s continental showpiece event and, as a result, will first play against The Pirates of Seychelles, ranked 199 in the world, on 4th September before facing off against The Coelacanths of Comoros, three days later on 7th.
“Due to the current World Cup qualification [in Africa, where most of the bigger nations are involved], we can only play against teams who are out of that qualification,” coach Saintfiet told www.gambiaff.org.
“Comoros qualified just like us for the first time for AFCON. They have their players playing all in Europe, in top leagues in Holland, Belgium, Serbia, England, and France. They are 133 on the current FIFA ranking. We are currently 147.”
Abdoulie Sanyang of Beerschot pulled out of Scorpions squad due to injury. He will be replaced by defender Bubacarr Marong of Palermo in Italy.