From a humble beginning as head coach of the Lamin zonal team, Tapha Manneh’s football journey has earned him a record as the first Gambian coach to win a treble with a premier division team outside of The Gambia.
Since joining Liberian side LISCR football club in 2016, Manneh has etched himself into the history of Liberian football and will always be remembered as the first coach in the Liberian Premiere League to win the league with an unbeaten run of 22 games, in 2017.
“It’s all down to hard work and focus,” he tells The Chronicle. “I remember when I newly joined the team I made several changes to the squad that did not go down well with some fans. But I had to believe in my tactics and I knew what I was doing.”
Two weeks ago, Manneh’s LISCR won the Liberian FA Cup, a feat that doesn’t come as a surprise to his wife Abie Tamba. “Tapha would sacrifice food for football,” she says. “His passion for football is unquestionable. All his discussions in the house are football-related and I’m not surprise he is going this far in his coaching career.”
Manneh’s biggest fan is his son Modou Lamin. “He is the pride of the family and everyone is praying for him to more successful in his career.”
Manneh’s coaching career started in Lamin with the local super nawettan team. He progressed thanks to the contribution of other local and national coaches to his career.
“One of my mentors Lamin Sambou introduced me to coaching. Thanks to him I registered with The Gambia Coaching Association and that’s how I started practicing coaching at academy level, with advice from Sang Ndong and Alhaji OB Conateh as well.”
Manneh was later appointed as the coach of Gamtel, one of the best teams in the domestic premier league. He led the side to an unprecedented record, winning four FA Cup titles.
“Tapha has always been passionate about football,” his childhood friend Saffie Minteh recalls. “He always wants to win.”
In Liberia, he is already a hero to many football fans and followers.
“He is such a brave man with lot of technical abilities. He has added value to the Liberian premier league. A lot of young coaches here look up to him,” says Victor Kwadwo, a Liberian sport journalist
In The Gambia, Ousman Jobe, a football fan sees Manneh an Ambassador for Gambian coaches and The Gambia as a nation.
In 2017, Manneh was certified by The Gambia Football Coaches Association (GFCA) for winning the Liberia Football Association First Division League.