Special Feature: Is the massive Exodus of Gambian players to Senegal worth it? 

TFC: Alieu, Saikou Bernard, Muhammed, Kebba and Yusupha are all playing in Senegalese league

By: Bubacarr Fallaboweh 

Every summer transfer window, scores of Gambian players move to Senegals Ligue1 on permanent transfers and loan deals. The success of most Senegalese clubs is masterminded by Gambians. 

When CasaSports ended their trophy drought, Lamin Jarjou was the leading man, winning three trophies in two seasons. 

The great walls of GenerationFoot have the iconic image of Ablie Jallow and Bun Sanneh among the academy’s best players in their history, while Ahmed Ndow became the first batch of U20 players to win the league cup. 

Gibril Sillah, Mady Fatty, and Saikou Conteh won the coup du Senegal for Teungueth FC. The last two seasons saw Gambian players score over 23 goals. At the same time, both Gibril Sillah & Lamin Jarjou have been named Player of the season. 

Before that, Pa Omar Jobe won the Golden boot in 2019. 

“The Gambia is not in the same league as Senegal. The advantage of playing in Senegal is what they earn in wages compared to little rewards in the Gambia. 

Their league is more organized, has better football pitches, and has more travel opportunities. In addition, they are issuing more passports that aren’t announced; for example, Bakau-born Lamin Deen is currently playing for Napolis U19. 

You can easily travel using the Senegalese passport as a player.” Boy Bakau told TAT Sports. 

Senegal boasts several academies, with the latest, Demba Ba’s new €4.5m establishment, openly bent on snatching footballers from the Gambia. 

Are they good at what they are doing, or are our authorities just not paying attention? 

Senegal is a dominant force to reckon with in football. Since their first Nations cup triumph, they have been on top of the FIFA rankings in Africa. The national team is also doing well in all other categories U15, U17, U20, and CHAN teams have all qualified for the next edition of CAF and FIFA tournaments. At the same time, the U23 and Women’s national teams await their fate. 

Isatou Colley, Muctarr Njie, and Nicholas Jackson have all switched nationality, with the former recently called in September friendly matches. 

Muctarr Njie

The footage shown by the media team of Terenga Lions welcoming Jackson, where he failed to utter any french word and continued the interview in Gambian lingo, shows his true nationality. Despite not being involved, his call-up will boost the young stars’ confidence. 

Despite the non-professional status of the league, the Gambia has to create a market that attracts foreign players and coaches to come and compete. 

Turning a professional league should be a work in progress. The top 20 best clubs in Africa, according to IFFHS, were dominated by Egypt and Morroco. At the same time, South Sudan and Somalia qualified for the U17 AFCON Algeria 2023. Countries qualified for the CHAN, Algeria 2023 are Ethiopia, Mauritania, Niger, and Sudan. 

This qualification shows the improvement these leagues have achieved, especially regarding infrastructure. 

The Gunjur mini stadium has gone four years without any meaningful progress. In comparison, over the past five years, the Liberia Football Association invested 𝗨𝗦$ 𝟯,𝟳𝟵𝟮,𝟮𝟳𝟬 in nine infrastructure projects approved by FIFA. 

The sum comes from the 𝗨𝗦$ 𝟰,𝟮𝟱𝟬,𝟬𝟬𝟬 in FIFA Forward funds that LFA is entitled to, which were set aside by FIFA for projects. 

Our scouting department is additionally poor. Lamin Jarjou was left alone for ages without any confirmation of the country he would play. Despite playing his early football years in Senegal, he is Gambian by birth. Jarjou was finally persuaded by Coach Abdou Jammeh. 

The CasaSports match against Guediawaye FC and Lutisana were all occasions the FA president and technical director should have presented themselves to show ownership. 

After three brilliant seasons with CasaSport, Jarju was only posted once by the media team when he should have been making headlines daily. 

We are losing not only players but the value in money. Cameroon and Asante Kotoko goal machine Franck Mbella Etouga joined Al Masry Sporting Club on a transfer fee worth US$400,000. He bagged 21 league goals from 30 games. 

Senegalese players are making big moves to Morroco, Tunisia, Egypt, and Tanzania, with Jaraaf striker Bouly Junior Sambou joining Wydad de Casablanca on a 150K$. 

The sale of Gibril Sillah to Raja Casablanca, and the transfer of Dembo Darboe to AL Nasr FC, despite Real de Banjul & Tallinding Utd making some profits. 

Lamin Jarjou’s move to Al Hilal Omdurman is worth 162 million CFA. The developmental fee and the transfer fee are all bonuses clubs from the Gambia can benefit from. On the other hand, further sales of Mouctar Ndiaye and Alasana Faye will see Rhino FC and BK Milan have zero compensation after developing these players. 

Lamin Jarjou won the Player of the season both in the league and club, but Alasana Faye marshaling the midfield cannot go unnoticed. The former BK Milan midfielder made four teams of the week appearances and was the missing piece in Casasport’s double tie against

JS Kabylie. 

The defensive midfielder couldn’t play because of a passport issue as he awaits his Senegalese passport, which rules him out of the CHAN team qualification. 

CasaSports problem? 

Players from CasaSports, like Lamin Jarju, Alasana Faye, and Mouctar Ndiaye, have played for Senegal. At the same time, attempts were made during Gibril Sillah’s time in TFC. Abdou Jarju once checked in for the Senegalese U20 team only to be withdrawn because of injury. Other clubs have their share because Amadou Sanyang & Ebrima Colley played for Senegal U20 in the past. 

“Our league is not semi-professional; if you are not paying the players a certain amount of money and they play for years, it’s obvious that they will search for green pasture. Be reminded that some of these players come from impoverished backgrounds and players believe that when they go to Senegal, they will travel abroad. You don’t blame them much because Assan Ceesay, Saloum Faal, Ablie Jallow, Gibril Sillah, and Lamin Jarjou all made their marks. 

The export is limited, I don’t know if it’s deliberate, but they now prefer selling their players to foreigners. 

“None is from there. Players going to Casa are making waves, but it’s a disadvantage to clubs here. The club negotiates with Casa and agrees on terms, and the Player goes there. They change all his papers, including age, while registering them as Senegalese. If you know that, while you expecting future sales, training fee compensation, development fee. You end up letting it go by putting the Player first. Take Nicklos Jackson for an example; Banjul Utd let it slip, and Rhino let it slip. These are the problems clubs face when players go to CasaSports,” Rhino FC president Zakaria Bah told TAT Sports.


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