By: Pa Barrow
Ahead of the AFCON qualifiers in March 2023, fans and supporters of The Gambia senior national team have expressed dissatisfaction and concerns over the Scorpions playing its home game against Mali in Casablanca, Morocco, next month.
It has been confirmed that the Independence Stadium in Bakau, which is currently undergoing renovation after being banned by CAF for failure to meet the required standard in 2022, will not be ready to host the match.
The Gambia Football Federation (GFF) has confirmed that the Scorpion’s next home game against the Eagles of Mali will be played in Casablanca, Morocco, at the Mohammed V Stadium.
“I was disappointed when I heard the news that our upcoming game in the qualifiers will be played in Morocco,” said Modou Lamin Ceesay, a fan.
“This means that we will be playing two away games against Mali which will be very difficult for the players because they will be playing the strongest team in our group, and the home support will have been significant for the players and the coaching staff,” he said.
Modou Lamin, a national team fan since the 1980s, said he has never been embarrassed like this before. “How can a footballing country like The Gambia not be able to host her home matches because of the lack of a standard stadium?”
Another fan, Ousman Camara, said acceleration is needed in the work of the stadium’s renovation to ensure Gambians enjoy the advantages of playing at home.
“They have a double advantage because they are playing against a team that will be playing two of her matches away from home. Therefore, I am appealing to the authorities to do everything possible to fast-track the renovation work at the stadium to play our next matches at home as soon as possible because we want to see our players and cheer them up whenever we have home matches,” said Ousman.
Just like the next game, the Scorpions had previously played their home games beyond their borders, both in the preliminaries and proper qualifiers— having Morocco at the time and Senegal coming to their rescue.
The Gambia will travel to Bamako for the first header against Mali before returning a few days later to again host the Eagles on March 28, 2023, in Casablanca at the Mohammed V Stadium.