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Ahead of the Sene-gambia derby, Alkamba Times invited guests to talk about the crucial match as Gambia and Senegal face each other for the first time since 2008.

Former U20 coach Matar Mbooge, ex-Gambia international goalkeeper Wande Njie, together with Yamai, were all heavy on the crunch match in Group C.

Gambia has stood thrice against Senegal, achieving three draws that all had significant implications for their football blueprint, the latter leading to a total overhaul of the system, which gave them the success they are thriving at, whereas the first in 2003 led to a brutal breakdown of the two countries where properties, houses, and shops were burned down. The Gambia bruised the egos of the Senegalese when they returned from the 2002 World Cup with the famous 0-0 draw in Bakau. History is set to repeat itself as the two countries meet again: Senegal, the defending champions, and The Gambia Quarterfinalist in the 2021 edition.

 

Former Gambia U20 coach Matar Mboge says the Gambia should play without fear against Senegal.

“It’s a big game; it’s the biggest game in the football history of these two countries. It would be even bigger if it were a knockout match or a final itself. The stakes would have been higher between the two countries. It’s a game where a lot is on the line. The thing to remember is that there is far more pressure on the Senegalese team than the Gambian team, because if the Gambian team wins, everyone involved in the game, including the coach, would probably not be welcome back in their own country.” Mboge emphasized

“One thing I take from the experience is that we may not be able to walk off the field comfortably after the match, no matter what happens. We should know that Gambians are the ones who need to be doing all the running and movement, trying to control the game. We should be the ones trying to take the initiative. Scoring the first goal is important. Senegal is a difficult team to play against if they get the goal first.”

“Because of the way Senegal has history and everything they have done in football. We should never be worried or fear them, but rather make sure we are the ones on top of them, putting them under pressure—that’s the message I had against them.”

Wande Njie  

“We have a history; we have always been the underdogs, but there are some matches that, you know, we dominate, but at the end they end up winning. Senegal has never outplayed the Gambia.

“Tension is high on match day; I remember back in 2003, the provocation started at the airport. The draw led them to believe that Gambian football has improved. They don’t understand us right now.*

 

“The intimidation started; they dropped all our water bottles; Pa Sulay Jallow was denied entry; they told him his face didn’t match the one attached to the passport. We didn’t have time to go to the hotel; we went straight to the stadium. The police rounded us up with guns, and in the dressing room, they poured their holy water everywhere. During our warm-up, the fight broke up. This psychology unsettles your mind, and you end up losing concentration.”

“In 1986, the Trawally goal was enough for Ivory Coast. Senegal had one of their best squads, 1-0. They came in that match, provoking Ivorians saying; ‘we don’t play against beggers’.

 

“Let them prepare for that again. There are 90 minutes at stake, not family; they are our rivals. Let them have the self-belief and become dirtier than them.”

 

“Provocation has been long there; I could recall Zone II 1988, when they were coming and saying Koki was coming; they used to have a huge advantage on that. “

Yamai insists the boys have the nation’s pride.

“It’s a sibling rivalry between us; the derby is the most important match of our campaign. If we could get a positive result, like a draw, that would be a win in my eyes. A defeat will be down to a lack of preparation, and Senegal is the bigger team. It’s not hatred for most people; it’s just jokes and taunting, just like big and small brothers; however, we have a few that do go overboard and do things that aren’t necessary. Senegalese always feel bigger than the Gambia and better in all aspects, but in reality, that’s not the case.”

“The rivalry between Senegal and Gambia is evident in all aspects. The players are having the nation’s pride; I know they know its importance, but I don’t want them to put it over their heads, and it has become a pressure. “

“That’s the topic of the conversation; everyone will be on the edge; nobody wants to lose to your opponent. On a tense day, there are big games in our group, but the Senegal vs. Gambia match has been the talk of the group.” Yamai added

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Baboucarr Fallaboweh Sports Editor (Buba Jallow Fallaboweh) is a Gambian football expert, football analyst & columnist. The Stockholm-based Journalist is a media officer, football Scout, PR, Influencer and Digital creator. I started my journalism career as a football analyst in 2012 with Vibes FM and went on to work with CityLimit, West Coast, Hot FM, Freedom Radio, Eye Africa and Afri Radio as a content producer and presenter. In 2013, I attended Football Daily on the BBC SPORTS where we discussed the different styles of Football played in Africa. I Went on to freelance for The Point Newspaper, Freedom Newspaper, Daily Observer and Standard Newspaper before being appointed as Sports Editor with the Alkamba Times in March 2022.  I have worked for Magazines like Glo Magazine and Foot54 covering Gambian football and African Football.   Between 2020 -2021 I worked as a scout for the Gambia Football Federation, scouting talents for the U17 &U20.  From 2017 to 2021, I served as Media officer for GFF First division teams Team Rhino and Marimoo and also as media Officer of Banjul FC, fourth Division tier in Sweden and Darboe’s FC (Female second division club in the Gambia). I served as a PR for Superstars Academy.   With Afrencon, I was a data analyst before I joined LightHouse as a head scout for the Gambia project. In organizational structures, I served as the ambassador of the John Bass Kidney Foundation and one of the founders of the foundation creating kidney awareness in the Gambia.   I also served two positions in the Gambian organization in Sweden, as Sports chairman and the secretary of the associations.   After 12 years of being a football journalist, I was named 3rd best sports column writer in Africa year 2021 by the reputable sports media organization AIPS. I finished in the top 35 in the world with my article titled Back way: Gambian footballers in deadly Voyage to Europe.   With over 500 articles and interviews, analysis, profiling, features and news, I was shortlisted for the Gambia Press Union National Journalist Award 2022. I submitted the article which was co-written alongside Momodou Bah From Living Through Despair to Being An Agent Of Hope, The Inspiring Story Of John Bass.   I have served as an advisers to Football academies, clubs, and players and others. I have hosted dozens of shows and was invited as a guest on both radio, TV and the online press. I also covered the Gambia's maiden AFCON debut in 2021 in Cameroon.  

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