For a national team that has been so used to losing games that no one ever expects them to win anything, a two-game winning streak will obviously seem historic.
The Scorpions’ recent 1-0-win over the Atlas Lions of Morocco in an International friendly on Wednesday has breathed some life into a team that has over the years put off fans. The surprise victory followed another 1-0 victory against Guinea a few days earlier. Both games were played in Morocco where the team is on a ten-day training camp.
Buoyed by their 1-0 win over Guinea in the first test game, the Scorpions needed a Musa Barrow 26th minute strike against Morocco to end their training camp on a high. Both victories, particularly the one against Morocco came as a surprise to many football fans in The Gambia. Both Morocco and Guinea are heading to this year’s Africa Cup of Nations in June.
“The Scorpions need to win more games to regain our full confidence,” says Essaka Dem, a football fan. “As Gambians, this is the only team that we want to support, but they have to win so that we can be motivated to support.”
After over ten years of a winless streak at home, the Scorpions under Tom Saintfeit earlier beat Benin in a recent AFCON qualifier to break the jinx, thus earning some respect from some fans. “The head coach did a commendable job in putting together a young, talented and energetic squad. I’ve noticed that he’s been making some changes in the team since he arrived. I hope those changes are better for The Gambia,” says Ebrima Jallow.
Modou Lamin Gibba, another fan wants more. “Considering we did not qualify for either AFCON or World Cup, we have to focus on how the national team can perform better. This is the best time for the players to build up good chemistry and understanding among themselves. This means they should be able to get along and click both on and off the pitch.”
Ahead of the Morocco trip, some key players including Modou Barrow and Bubacarr Trawally turned down Saintfeit’s invitation to join the training camp. According to local football coach Abdoulie Nyang, the football federation should engage those players.
“We still need those players. Even if the coach doesn’t want to engage them, the federation should. The team should always play with love and the players should be ready to support each other.
Saintfeit has renewed his contract recently and will remain the head coach of the Scorpions till 2021.