By: Foday Manneh
The Scorpions of The Gambia ended the 2022 calendar with what was seen mainly as an unimpressive 0-0 stalemate in a friendly match against Guinea Bissau in Antalya, Turkey, on Sunday, November 20, 2022.
Despite the draw, Sunday’s match was a joy for a few players to take home as they were handed a call-up for the weeklong camp in Turkey, while others made their debut appearance for the national team under head coach Tom Sainfeit.
From playing domestic football to professional careers in Denmark and then a Scorpions debut all in the space of 4 months, this is by far the best year for 18-year-old Yankuba Minteh, who becomes the youngest player to make his debut under coach Tom Sainfeit.
Swedish-born Gambian Jesper Ceesay earned Tom’s trust with a single game with the National Olympic team during the CHAN qualifiers a month ago. Alieu Fadera’s performance at the club level so far this season defines why he made the camp; while Ismaila Njom might be new to many until Tom’s calling, his conduct in the draw explained why he also made a list for the first time.
The Gambia’s performance in the last game of the year was relatively uninteresting to many fans as they failed to take most of their chances – quickly losing most of the possession to the opponents like many other games before.
Scorpions top-scorer Assan Ceesay missed two one-on-one chances in the first half against the Guinean goalkeeper.
The Lecce striker failed to ideally take a misplaced pass from the goalkeeper in the 32′ minutes before his tricky move on a similar opportunity was disallowed a few minutes later by the Guinean’s number one from Musa Barrow’s header.
The Gambia fought hard for a goal, with numerous chances coming from returnee Hamza Barry, debutant Yankuba Minteh, Muhammed Badamosi, and skipper Omar Colley.
Colley’s header was very close to breaking the deadlock in the 72′ minutes but was saved against the crossbar by the opponents’ goalkeeper yet again.
Badamosi missed his first chance in a tight space with the goalkeeper after replacing Ceesay.
The last AFCON debutants are preparing to fight for a return in the next continental showpiece when the qualifiers resume in March next year – playing twice against Mali in home and away games scheduled for March 2022.
The game against the Djurtus of Bissau saw the Scorpions play 11 games in 2022, winning 5, drawing 4, and losing 2 in all official and unofficial matches.