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Will Gambia's U-20 make it to Senegal 2015?

Joseph Koto, head coach of the Senegalese U-20, has called on the Gambian public to come out in their large numbers to fill the Independence Stadium to capacity and support the Gambia U-20 in their upcoming game against Liberia in Banjul.

Head coach Koto said if the Gambia U-20 is given the required support from fans during its qualifying games, he is confident the team will qualify for Senegal 2015.

The Gambia has a formidable team, he added, saying that was why his side could not score during the friendly.

The Gambian U-20 gave us the test we wanted, he stated but was quick to add that he hopes Tapha Manneh was happy as they have as well given him the test he wanted to prosper for the game against Liberia. He was pleased the game was well-contested, he added but said his players have difficulties controlling the ball due to the nature of the ground.

His players played well and created chances they could have capitalized on, he went on, saying that overall, the game was well contested as none of the teams played lackadaisically

The Gambia team took advantage of knowing the pitch, Koto observed, saying if they had not used strategies they would have conceded so many goals.  Head coach Koto wished Gambia good luck, saying The Gambia and Senegal are one. “Senegal should not organise without The Gambia being a part of it,” he said.

“We have already qualified as host but if Gambia needs us to prepare we should be there to give them the test they want,” he pointed out.

“If the Gambia repeat this performance against Liberia with that of the first leg I have no doubt they will win but the support of the general public is also important; let the public come out and cheer up the boys because without their support it would be difficult for them,” he concluded.

Tapha Manneh, head coach of Gambia U-20, expressed delight with the draw, saying they are still trying to see and test some of the players who do not have opportunity to play in the previous games.

“The game is a draw but a good lesson and trial for us,” he added, saying they used 7 players in the first half who did not play the previous games.

They contained the Senegalese team very well, created chances, he stated, adding that they could have even scored in the first half but football is always unpredictable.

“We will go back and try to prepare ourselves, work on our errors and then come back before the game against Liberia,” Manneh said.

Madi Fatty did not score but played very well, he said of the striker, adding that sometimes in the game it depends on what type of players “you are paired with”. “Today he was playing with a partner (Ebou Sanyang) who is from a different team,” he went on, adding: “They do not have enough time to play together and that is why we brought in Ebou Sanyang today so they can have playing time together. They played well together despite not scoring.”  “The Senegalese have a good team but I think they have a lot of work to do,” Manneh said of the opponents, adding: “The way I see the team I do not think they will be a team to win the championship; they have enough time, they can prepare the team well.”

“I think they are still looking for a better team,” he said of the Senegalese U-20.

Manneh disagreed with Koto who said the nature of the pitch contributed to the draw.  “These are all local players who play on this type of pitches,” he said, adding: “When we lose a chance or did not win a game, they should not look for excuse or defend themselves. I do not see the stadium as a bad area compared to the other places. I think the stadium is better.”

Commenting on the 5 players (1994-born) to miss the championship if the Gambia qualify for Senegal 2015, he said his decision initially was not to use players who would play in the qualifiers and not be eligible for the championship proper.

“If you look at the competition we cannot eliminate all of them because at the moment they are qualified to play,” he stated further, saying: “If you do not want to use them you are seizing their rights not to play because they are U-20 right now.”

Ninety percent of the players were 1994-born initially, he also said, adding that they had to reduce the number to 5 players so they can help the team to qualify.

Author: Cherno Omar Bobb
The Point

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