Ahead of the West African Football Union Tournament in Senegal, Tijan Marr, one of the top midfielders in the Gambian team has said the boys are mentally and physically preparing for the championship as they hope to seal qualification for next year’s U20 Africa Cup of Nations in Mauritania.
The tournament which is to be played in Senegal is scheduled to kick start on Friday 6th November 2020.
The young scorpions are currently on a training camp at the National Training Center (NTTC), intensifying preparations for the championship.
“Well, the team is preparing all sorts of preparation both mentally and physically towards the tournament. The young scorpions are already with a good fighting spirit and great confidence.”
The Gambia won the trophy in Liberia in 2018 and became the bronze medalist in 2019, in which Tijan was an integral member, squaring alongside experienced players like Momodou Bojang, Habibou Mendy, and Lamin Saidy. “As leaders in the team, we’re giving the young players all sort of motivation and encouragement through the little experienced we’ve, “he said.
However, the head coach has trimmed the 32 man squad to 26 for the next phase of the training.
Pa Faye is the team manager. He told The Chronicle that the team comprises mainly new and young talented players who identified base on their performance. “If you can read the team on percentage-wise is ninety-five percent of new players because only a few of the last year’s team if you name them they’re not more than five within the team, “he said. “So I think basically, Matarr is building up another new under 20.”
For the head coach Mattar Mboge, the COVID 19 restriction guidelines have caused some changes in the team’s preparations but have not dampened the spirit of the players who he said are getting all ready to face tough opponents including defending champions Senegal. “We know that as host and defending champions Senegal will be amongst the favorite but we’ll also join them, thanks to our strong record in the past two tournaments. He tells The Chronicle. I’m looking forward to fierce competition for places and we are confident that we’ll be able to compete amongst the best as always and carry the Gambian flag to higher heights”
This year’s WAFU Tournament would be subsequent to the zonal qualifying format for U-17 that first started in 2018, where the tournament finalists in each zone received a ticket to the junior AFCON, except the zone who would host the final. As Mauritania is the next U-20 AFCON host, there’s only one qualifying spot available in WAFU ‘A’ therefore only the 2020 winners will seal their place at the 2021 U20 AFCON.