By: Bubacarr Fallaboweh
It is widespread for strikers to have a goal drought, and in most cases, the Team they are playing for rallies behind them to break the jinx.
Some are even made to take penalties and score, one of the leading ways to restore a striker’s confidence.
Assan Ceesay’s last Scorpion goal came against Chad, a brace. It adds to the historical goals scored by the Banjul born for the Gambia.
It is now eight games and 612 minutes of action without a goal. Whereas the Gambia hasn’t benefited from Assan goals, Musa Barrow, Ablie Jallow X2, Omar Colley, Hamza Barry, Yankuba Minteh, and Mohammed Badamoesi have found the back of the net.
Assan has needed help with goal-scoring. In his first season with FC Zurich, he only scored two goals in 32 appearances as he started 18 games.
While on loan, he featured for VFL Osnabruck 11 times in the league and scored only once. Assan saved his best goal-scoring form for Zuerich’s record-breaking season, scoring 20 goals and providing 11 assists in the 2021/2022 campaign. The feat earned him a Team of the Season spot, Zurich MVP of the season, and runner-up of the Golden Shoe and assist chart.
Assan will challenge for the Golden Boot in the Saudi Pro League once Damac FC gets things running; he has four goals in eight matches so far.
What bothers Assan or people is his inability to find the back of the net despite being the record goal scorer of the Scorpions. Is it Tom Saintfiet’s tactics? Assan is usually the center forward supported by Ablie Jallow and Musa Barrow, who often leave him to fend for himself. If you were the leading goal scorer in the qualifiers, people expect you to score goals in the competition.
One may have a personal target at a level, but the Team is more critical because either Assan or the Team had a bad tournament. Motivating the players and making them determined to push forward is good. Everyone wants to set the bar higher.
He was only paired twice with a center forward. It’s a concern ahead of the Nations Cup, where Assan cannot afford to fire blank.
Naturally, you would want to score as a player, but the playing style is different for club and country; he is not scoring but does not have opportunities to score. In his club, he is provided through the pass, 1v1; the system doesn’t favor Assan or any striker; any striker you bring will struggle; when we play attacking football, Assan will score, and anyone else will score.
He alone can’t do it; he works hard up there, and when we are looking for a goal, he is withdrawn. Not so much build-up was created in the first half, making it harder for potential crosses for free headers and tap-ins.
Assan has strength, fights, is gifted with height, and is a box striker. Aside from that, he has pace and possesses a fantastic left-footer.
He scores inside the box and outside the 18. When Badamoesi came in against Congo, and we started offensive play, Assan could have scored; crosses were coming as we were attacking.
Fish Joof said, “It shouldn’t be a concern if it were not happening at the same time for club and country.”
If Assan comes to club level, he scores, and when he comes to the national Team, the coach still plays him. That can only mean he is doing something the coach asks of him. Is it only Assan that is struggling? Who among our strikers is scoring? Badamoesi scored the other time, but it’s not a trend that anytime he comes in, he scores.
Ali Sowe came and did very well, but he didn’t score; we have to look into other components that make people score. We have to look at the coach’s tactics; he has very creative midfielders, but the defensive duties given to them are too much, draining their energy and, in turn, affecting them.
We tend to judge strikers by scoring goals, which is very true, but we must consider how many chances we create for the strikers to score goals. That freedom is limited; Ali Sowe is needed, and anybody who can add quality to the Team is needed.
Assan has been criticized, but how many missed chances did he have in the games he was involved? Most of the time, he struggles.
The type of football that the Gambians picture is challenging; we think we are Barcelona, Real Madrid, and everything is perfect, and the machine is working well. While relative to the teams that we are competing with, we are not better than them.
Fan’s expectancy is very high, which puts pressure on the players; we have qualified for the AFCON for the second time, which is a fantastic record.
It’s high time the coach gives the players the freedom. Yes, when he was coming, he was unknown and wanted to qualify. You can use all sorts of tactics to qualify now that he has qualified for the first one and maintained his defensive shape while the Team made progress.
Now, it’s about time he invests more in offensive football; he must give some players room in the future. Take Ablie Jallow, for example; give him 40 percent of defensive and 60 percent of offensive duties.
Musa Barrow is the same; most teams sacrifice three players as a threat in the future. But if you reverse their role, they are 80 percent defensively and 20 percent offensively; they don’t have that energy, and the caliber of players we have are good in running and very creative. Give them the ball, and they will bring their skills and create magic with the ball.
Otherwise, our strikers will continue to suffer. Look at Assan; all the goals he scored at his club, chances are created for him, and he has been there at the right time and place and ended up scoring.
I am not blaming the strikers or the coach. He was trying to build something; if you make a team, you start with defense. When it’s solid, you move, and we have improved on that aspect.