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Life After the Final Whistle: Abdoulie Bojang, Steve Biko’s Ferocious Midfield Legend

Abdoulie Bojang

Brilliant and brutal, Abdoulie Bojang was one of the toughest and most uncompromising midfield players in Gambian football. For more than a decade, he maintained a reputation as a dominant figure who commanded respect on the pitch.

Born and raised in Bakau where his passion for football kicked off, Abdoulie started competitive football with Flamingos Football Club, a popular nawettan team in his home town, while attending Muslim High School in Banjul.

“Flamingos Football Club was full of stars like Kabalero and Kebba Chucks in the 90s. But I was able to stand out in all our games in the Bakau Nawettan,” he recalls.

With the club, he quickly established himself as a midfielder and team player of intelligence and ingenuity. He became well known for hunting down opponents and winning the ball off them, with ferocity and rigor. He was a man for the big occasion and a vital cog for his coaches’ game plans.

Abdoulie Bojang captained Flamingos during the peak of his career with the club

After guiding Flamingos to five nawettan titles, Abdoulie moved to Steve Biko, a 2nd Division Bakau team at the time. The club would be promoted to the 1st Division in his first season with them.

“There were very good players in the team…the likes of Pa Musa Sonko, Pa Jammeh and Saihou Jammeh. That made it difficult for the coach to select me to play.”

Abdoulie had to spend three seasons waiting for his debut and learning from the more experienced players in the team. By the end of the third season, most of the veteran players left the club and he had his opportunity, finally.

“Once they left, we took over and became the ‘giant killers’ in the national league.”

He was a huge success and fans’ favourite. He became the team captain and guided the club to its first FA cup title. Many of the fans would remember him as an extravagantly gifted talent with a penchant for providing accurate passes often resulting to spectacular goals.

“Abdoulie Bojang covered the whole ground during games,” says John Senghore, a keen Gambian football follower. “He stopped opponents’ counter attacks and brought steel in midfield. He was just a joy to watch.”

Steve Biko fans celebrating the club that was founded in 1978 photo credit: Gambia Sports News Online

Abdoulie’s secret for success at Steve Biko was the fans. “I was very motivated at Steve Biko. The entire community (Bakau) would rally behind us each time we had a game. The fans were amazing and it gave me good memories.”

In 1996 during the peak of his career with Steve Biko, he received his first call up to the junior national team and within two years, he was promoted to the senior national squad.

“Playing for the national team was the dream of any player then. For a start, it wasn’t easy for me at all because the team had great players which meant I had to prove myself to be part of the coach’s plan.”

“My main competitors were Jatto Ceesay, Cho Jallow and Seyfo Soley. They were top class midfielders. We always fought as a team. We saw The Gambia first and always wanted to put smile on the faces of the fans.”

Abdoulie (3rd from left – 1st row) with the national squad

The biggest highlight of Abdoulie’s national team career came in 2002 during the Amilcar Cabral Zone II Championship. He helped The Gambia reach the finals which they lost 1-0 to Senegal. He was also a third-place medalist of the same competition when it was hosted by The Gambia in 1997.

“This was the epic moment,” he recalls. I was so happy doing it for The Gambia. Though we lost to Senegal, I think we did very well as a team.”

In 2002, Abdoulie was scouted for a trial in Sweden with a 3rd Division team Vourdberg. He successfully completed the trial but contract talks collapsed because he couldn’t reach a financial agreement with the team. He then retired from football.

In 2010, he returned to Steve Biko as head coach and guided them to the 2013 National League Championship title. He’s still the coach of the top flight club.

Abdoulie Bojang being celebrated by Steve Biko fans

Abdoulie also had stints with the Gambia Women’s U-17 team and had guided them to the second round of the World Cup qualifiers where they lost to Ghana. He was also the head coach of The Gambia team that won the four-team invitational football tournament in Mbour, Senegal in 2014, and the assistant to National U-20 Coach during the 2017 African Youth Championship qualifiers.

As a B license holder, he is also currently the head coach of the National U-17 male squad.  

On the current state of Gambian football, Abdoulie says, “The game is moving and Gambians shouldn’t be carried away by the obsession with instant results. They should allow the football federation to realize its long-term development strategies for Gambian football development.”

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