Gambians in New York have reacted to their team’s recent triumph at the 2014 New York Cosmos Copa championship following a solid 2-0 defeat of France in the finals of the competition on Saturday.
Pa Omar Jatta, one of the people behind the team’s success in the championship told Observer Sports from his base in New York that every Gambian should join the team in celebrating the triumph.
“The Gambian national team failed to qualify to Brazil but in New York, we are world champions. The competition registered 40 teams from all over the world in the qualifiers and 18 teams competed in the tournament proper. This is the second time that we participated in the tournament, the first year we went to semifinals and this year we are champions.”
Jatta added that the success is as a result of the relentless sacrifices, the sleepless nights, the hunger in Ramadan and the loss of pay at work. “With our flag hanging over the top of the stadium, Gambia neatly written on the scoreboard and our national anthem sang to the delight of mascots and cheer leaders in Long Island County, this team became the embodiment of our values and the pride of the Republic of the Gambia,” he added.
The Cosmos Copa, United States’ preeminent amateur adult soccer tournament that unites New York City’s diverse community through sport, brought together 40 participating teams from around the tri-state area.
In its sixth edition, this international tournament, the best soccer players in the area represent their countries of heritage. The tournament is organised by the North American Soccer League soccer side the New York Cosmos. And for the first time, the Copa title match this year was played on the same field that the Cosmos play their home matches on.
“This means a lot to all of us. We are not only playing for the Gambians here today, but for the entire community," Gambia head coach Ansumana Gaye was quoted on the cosmoscopa.com as saying in a post-match interview. "I cannot wait to tell family and friends back home the exciting news.”
Aboubacari Sissoho gave Gambia the lead in the first half before Lamin ‘Raul’ Jammeh made sure of the victory with a second eight minutes from time. “At halftime, I told my players to keep focus and make sure not to concede within the first 10 minutes,” Gaye added.
On Saturday night, New York City has a new champion. Gambia, a nation of a little under two million people, now boasts the right to be called NYC’s top soccer community, and in doing so, they became the first African side to win the competition in its six-year history. “It is an unbelievable feeling,” Gambia midfielder Mamadi Kamara added.
Author: Baboucarr Camara