By Baboucarr Fallaboweh
The scorpions of the Gambia will face Burundi on Thursday before playing against Ivory Coast on the 20th of November all in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers. Tom Saintfiet who led the Gambia to back-to-back Nations Cup will be hoping to take the Gambia to the dream land in 2026.
The scorpions have shaken off injury panic with defensive duo Omar Colley and Noah Sonko named in the 23-man squad. Noah Sonko played 23 mins in Ludogorets 3-0 win over Etar. Another massive boast is that Saidy Janko is back to the fold after the Swiss born missed out against South Sudan and Mali.
Gambia U20 midfielder Mahmudu Bajo is the only new addition as the Belgian retains the core of his team. The midfielder got the nod ahead of Saikou Touray and Jesper Ceesay to replace Sulayman Marr.
Burundi missed out a place for the Nations Cup by finishing 3rd behind Cameroon and Namibia. In the last two years, they have played against Indonesia and Ivory, winning one and losing two while they are ranked 142 in the world.
Can Tom attack and delopy Ablie Jallow as number Ten? Baboucarr Gaye is set to start his 14th match in a row, despite getting fewer minutes in his club. Gaye has established himself to be Gambia’s number One.
Saidy Janko will play right-back if the Scorpions play a back four. If they opt for a back three, he will play as wing back. Ismaila Jome will deputize in the absent of Ibou Touray. Jackob Mendy would have suited it but Tom goes with more experience. Even, Dawda Ngum might be slotted in the left-back role.
Coach Etienne usually goes with a 3-5-2 attacking formation.
Captain Saido Berahino is not named in the squad. A player to keep an eye on is 21 years midfielder Jospin Nshimirimana. He has 8 goals in 12 games and plays for Yeni Malatyaspor in the Turkish 2nd tier.
Christophe Nduwarugira who features for Academico Visue in Portugal is the most capped player in their squad with 42 caps scoring 7 goals.
Frédéric Nsabiyumva had an inceidible season with Västerås who are currently promoted to the Allsvenskan. Upfront is Simba’s Saidi Ntibazonkiza