National Team Coach Accused of Sidelining Some Senior Players, GFF Says Coach at liberty to choose players

Goalie Jobe, Captain Jagne and Defender Sanneh
Coach Tom Saintfiet

Some football fans and pundits have accused the Gambia Senior National team Coach Tom Saintfiet for his continuous sidelining of some key senior national team players who were central to Gambia’s qualifications to the Africa Cup of Nations.

The players, coach Tom is accused of disregarding include team Captain Pa Modou Jagne, Goalie Modou Jobe and defender, Baboucarr Sanneh. But the Gambia Football Federation’s director of Communications, Mr. Baboucarr Camara told Alkamba Times such claims are false.

‘However, what I do know is that no one decides, which player either Tom Saintfiet or any of our various coaches must select. They’re 100% in charge of player selection and we see these invited lists the same day with the general public. We’ve never interfered and never will we. What we’ll do is to give the coach the environment and atmosphere to compete meaningfully and when results go wrong he’ll be responsible,” Camara said.

But sports Journalist Mbaye Camara, who regularly comments on Gambia sports posted on social media after coach Tom released his squad for the Morocco friendlies:
“Keep moving Modou Jobe  (Toldo). When things were very difficult you were there to save us. I am very proud of you’, He said apparently referring to Modou Jobe’s absence from the team.

Since his appointment as Manager of the national scorpions, coach Tom took charge of 13 competitive games and goalie Jobe played 12 games leveling 1,080 minutes than any other player while combative defender Bubacarr sanneh also played 12 games out of 13. Both players played more minutes under coach Tom than any other player.

Reacting to the news, Coach Tom told Alkmaba Times: ‘I selected 26 good players, I cannot select every player so we make choices based on tactics, fitness (not injured, with a club, training and playing), group dynamics and discipline.’

He said: “Bubacarr Sanneh has no club. He played his last match on club level in March and Pa Modou is already 15 months without professional football. Modou Jobe just moved to South Africa. I have 3 quality young keepers who already played for months in almost every match’.

Sources within the Scorpions camp told Alkamba Times that all is not well after claims that Coach Tom is punishing some senior players for their refusal to take the D11 million bonus government paid to the players who even declined an invitation to visit state house in Banjul.  

However, Camara said: “the coach knows what he wants from each player, depending on the nature of opponents. I know he’s following every Gambian footballer and he knows who’s doing what and what he needs from these players. So the allegations that he sidelined certain players is something I’m hearing for the very first time.”

The Scorpions  will make their maiden appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon next year for the first time raising hopes for football fans who have long anticipated such a glorious moment for Gambian football.

Meanwhile, Coach Tom has already called a 26 man squad for his Morocco camp and the team is expected to play against Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Morocco’s CHAN Team as part of preparations for the Cameroon 2022 Afcons.

The Gambia Football Federation and Gambia government has also launched the road to Cameroon with a massive fundraising drive to raise funds for the scorpions ahead of the continental showpiece. The committee is tasked with raising D120M.

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Sainey M.K. Marenah
Mr. Sainey M.K. Marenah is a Prominent Gambian journalist, founding editor The Alkamba Times and formerly head of communications at the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) and Communications and PR Consultant for The Gambia Pilot Program, under Gamworks. Mr. Marenah served as the Social media Strategist and Editor at Gambia Radio and Television Services. He is also the Banjul Correspondent for Voice of America Radio. Sainey is a human rights and developmental journalist who has carved a strong niche particularly in new media environments in the Gambian media industry. Mr. Marenah began his career as a junior reporter with the Point Newspaper in the Gambia in 2008 and rose through the ranks to become Chief correspondent before moving to The Standard Newspaper also in Banjul as Editorial Assistant and head of News. He is a household name in the Gambia’s media industry having covered some of the most important stories in the former and current government. These include the high profile treason cases including the Trial of Former military chiefs in Banjul in 2009 to 2012. Following his arrest and imprisonment by the former regime of President, Yahya Jammeh in 2014, Marenah moved to Dakar Senegal where he continues to practice Journalism freelancing for various local and international Media organization’s including the BBC, Al-Jazeera, VOA, and ZDF TV in Germany among others. He is the co-Founder of the Banjul Based Media Center for Research and Development; an institution specialized in research and development undertakings. As a journalist and Communication Expert, focused on supporting the Gambia's transitional process, Mr Marenah continues to play a pivotal role in shaping a viable media and communications platform that engages necessary tools and action to increase civic participation and awareness of the needs of transitional governance to strengthen the current move towards democratization. Mr. Marenah has traveled extensively as a professional journalist in both Europe, Africa and United States and attended several local and international media trainings.


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