The Gambia U-20 came into this semifinal with so much weight on their shoulders – twice losing at the same stage in 2007 and 2021 and facing seven-time record champions, Nigeria. It was truly a moment of uncertainty.
And, the Young Scorpions exceeded their wildest dreams with a performance of quality and discipline that send shock waves across the 36 states of Nigeria as they condemned the Flying Eagles to an emphatic 1 – 0 defeat.
And again, it was the magical Adama Bojang, who makes the difference with a delightful strike just after 7 minutes that send the Gambia to a first-ever final of the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations. They inflicted shock, pain, and disbelief on a population of over 200 million people who will be cursing forward Ahmed Abdoulahi for missing a penalty in the closing stages that would have drawn Nigeria back on level terms.
The Gambia will now take on Senegal in the finals on Saturday 11th March in what is going to be a clash between neighbors.
THE APPROACH THAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE
If there is anything that deserved credit for this win, is the tactical discipline of the Gambian side. From start to finish, they stayed committed to their style and refused to be intimidated by the achievement of Nigeria.
The Flying Eagles had been hailed as one of the most exciting teams in the tournament which was clearly seen in their performance in this game and the ones before, a proof of their positive, refreshing approach.
Yet, against the Young Scorpions in this all-West African clash, they came up against a complete discipline and intelligent side that accorded them the respect they deserve from start to finish, but, denied them the space they so ruthlessly exploited in their games against Mozambique and Uganda.
It was a simple game plan, brilliantly orchestrated by Mahmud Bajo and executed by his teammates like fellow midfielder Rashid Njie, and center-back Alagie Saine.
And in the end, The Gambia reserve the right to boast of showing to the world how to stop a serial champion from reaching a stage they considered their own as Adama Bojang makes the difference.
UNSTOPPABLE ADAMA BOJANG
The Steve Biko starlet struggled at the group stages for goals leaving coach Abdoulie Bojang with homework to figure out why the marksman was not doing what he is quite known for – scoring. And, so too the supporters were asking.
But, in the quarterfinals, he was unstoppable, marking his presence in the competition with a hat trick, making him the first Gambian to score a hat trick in any CAF competition. Again, against Nigeria, the young star was in the limelight.
For the most part, Nigeria’s hard-pressing left Adama Bojang isolated in the lone strike position and chances were not forthcoming on his path. And, Adama and his Gambia side proved that one opportunity was all that was needed to penetrate Nigeria.
More like a gift, Onuche Ogbelu’s clearance ricocheted off the head of Ebrima Singhateh and fell to the path of the unmarked Adama Bojang. Knowing that they are playing against record champions, Bojang took advantage of the chance like it was never going to come again. He Outran two Nigerian defenders and curled into the bottom corner for the breakthrough.
Bojang now scored four goals in the tournament only sitting second in the top scorers’ chart, one adrift of Senegal’s Pape Diop who scored five.
The Gambia’s young forward reportedly caught the attention of many teams in Europe including Tottenham and Nottingham. His spacing and clinical ability makes him a standout forward, now that he scored a goal that knocked out the big giants, this could mean renewed interest from more club.
This was a great day and a great moment for the Gambia, but it has a moment of an eclipse as Gambia's reliable midfielder Haruna Rashid Njie was sent off for a second yellow card offense in the 89th minutes. A more accustomed 10-player who has been used as a central midfielder throughout, performed beyond the expectation of not only the coach, but the entire scorpion's fans. Considering the dynamics of the team, this might not be a great miss for coach Abdoulie Bojang, but, Rashid once more proved his worth even against a dominant Nigeria side.
DOMINANT BUT TOOTHLESS
Nigeria knew they had pride and a reputation to protect, seven-time champions, twice runners up, and five times finishing as bronze medalists, as such they showed a performance that left the Gambia running for cover for the larger part.
They were dominant, yet toothless. It took them 29 minutes to cause a major threat when they nearly leveled matters after a mixed up at the Gambia's back between the rushing keeper Pa Ebou Dampha and Moses Jarju, but Nigeria's attempt went just wide off an unguarded post even though recovering Gambia's captain Alagie Saine was willing to handle the ball to prevent it from scoring as he stretched a hand towards the ball, but luckily for him, he missed what would have earned him a straight red.
Nigeria continued to dominate but could not find the means to beat past the Gambia's keeper Pa Ebou Dampha whose high sense of alertness, magnetic catch, and aerial ability makes him a realistic contender for the goalkeeper of the tournament's award.
In the 86 minutes, Nigeria was handed a golden opportunity to level the tie after a controversial VAR review adjudged Pa Ebou Dampha to have brought down Abdullahi in the box for a penalty. Substitute Ahmed Abdullahi who plays for K.A.A Gent in Belgium, agonizingly hit the base of the post from 12 yards, and the Gambia who feel cheated breathe a sigh of relief.
That was not the end of the drama. The Gambia were reduced to 10 men in the closing stages, when midfielder Rashid Njie who was booked for decent in the 84th minute after the penalty decision, received his second yellow in the 89th minute for what the referee described as a high booth.
At that moment, it was too little too late as the Nigerians were not able to stage anything meaningful even after the addition of five minutes. The Gambia's back four and their goalkeeper were as solid as the Berlin Wall. 21 attempts without a goal, Nigeria were truly toothless as the Gambia reach a historic milestone achievement.
Ladan Isah Bosso, Nigeria's coach before the game said his side are 'no South Sudan'. That is true, given the difference in quality, but, they were equally not able to stop the Gambia from scoring, nor were they able to penetrate them. He was forced to swallow his words by the dynamic Young Scorpions, who are still yet to concede a goal, no surprise their goalkeeper Pa Ebou Dampha was awarded the man of the match.
The Gambia will now take on Senegal in the Senegambia derby in the finals. Senegal has proven itself as the best team in the tournament, scoring 12 goals without conceding any yet, that is enough justification to label them as legitimate title contenders. But, this Gambia side are dynamic and does not care about the reputation and achievements of their opponents. With their pragmatic coach Abdoulie Bojang, they are quite capable of producing any shocker.
It will be interesting to see how that game will end.
The Young Scorpions of the Gambia ripped South Sudan into pieces to reach the U-20 AFCON semifinals and qualify for the May 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Crossing the quarterfinals stage was the 'primary target' of the young scorpions and they achieved it in the wildest fashion, effortlessly thrashing the Bright Stars of South Sudan 5 - 0. The result means the Young Scorpions will now take on Nigeria in the semifinals on Monday 6th March and equally, they will serve as one of Africa's representatives in the 2023 FIFA U-20 world cup which will take place in Indonesia. BEGINNING OF THE MISERY!Gambia's Adama Bojang failed to score at the group stages but this was purely his show. He ended his goal drought just after 7 minutes when he controlled Alagie Saine's long pass and fired past the Sudan goalkeeper Godwill Simon, to signal the misery that awaits South Sudan.Moses Jarju then glanced home a free header after a fine corner from Salifu Colley and Kajally Drammeh embarrassed the Sudan left-back before squaring a pass to Adama Bojang who rolled into an unguarded net for his second and the Gambia's third goal. At that moment, South Sudan who were largely bystanders, uncharacteristically pedestrians, only showed panic and their body language started to bellow surrender. But they were not still able to minimize the damage as the Gambia added two further goals. Steve Biko's starlet Adama Bojang who is the first player to have scored a hat-trick in the 2023 Gambia Football Federation First Division League, ultimately found his scoring boots as he fired home to complete a hat trick after the rushing Sudan goalkeeper misjudged actions at the edge of the box.4 - 0, it was game over already but the young scorpions appeared as if they did not have South Sudan where they wanted them. They keep pressing and Mahmud Bajo intentionally deflected Muhammed Sawaneh’s shot to beat the Sudan goalkeeper Godwill Simon and rounded up a comprehensive 5 – 0 win for The Gambia. The Young Scorpions did not only prove their attacking strength which could greatly be credited to coach Abdoulie Bojang's decision of handing Modou Lamin Marong and Salifu Colley both attack-minded players a start but equally their defensive cohesion as they are yet to concede a goal. So long Sudan could be considered as a weak opposition, is one thing, but the all-around ability of this Gambia side is one thing not to lose sight of, and scoring five goals in a quarter-final game, could certainly send worrying signals to the next opponents.
The Young Scorpions of The Gambia defeated Zambia 2 - 0 to secure a second straight win and advance to the quarter-finals despite a game to spare at the group stages.Wing-wizard Kajally Drammeh fired home from a tight angle in the 63rd minute, before captain Alagie Saine doubled The Gambia's lead from the penalty spot after a foul on Modou Marong by Zambia's goalkeeper. The Young Scorpions kept Zambia under constant pressure in the first half but were not able to translate their dominance into goals, as they missed several good chances.No matter the score of their final group game against Benin, coach Abdoulie Bojang's side will still top the group. A second man of the match award on the spin for captain Alagie Saine who now scored two goals in two games for the Gambia. A deserved victory for the young Scorpions as they serve notice to the rest of the teams about their title ambitions.
The Gambia national U-20 male team has on Tuesday night departed for Cairo - Egypt, via Istanbul for the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations.Coach Abdoulie Bojang and his team will continue their preparations in Egypt ahead of their opening group game on Tuesday 21st February in Alexandria. During the farewell, Bakary Badjie the minister for Youth and Sports hand the national flag to the team and urged them to defend the national colors. Lamin Kaba Bajo the President of the Gambia Football Federation assured the team of their support."The GFF will continue to collaborate with the Government to support your development and career. We believe in your team spirit as you represent our beloved country, The Gambia" the GFF President said. The Young Scorpions will open their campaign against Tunisia on February 21st, before taking on Zambia in the second game on February 24th, and wrap up their group games against Benin on February 27th.
Gamtel/Gamcel became the first side to have snatched a double in the history of the Gambia Volleyball Federation Beach Volleyball championship.Both their male and female team registered victories in the finals of 2022/2023 Beach Volleyball to make Gamtel/Gamcel the first side to have achieved the feat in a single season. The pair of Fatou Kinteh and Anna Marie Bojang of the Gamtel/Gamcel female team proved too strong for their opponents Mariama Ginado and Maimuna Bangura of the Gambia Police Force, beating them in two straight sets 21 - 18 and 21 - 10 to clinch the title in the women's category with a 2 - 0 win. In the male category, it was a keenly contested clash. Jahara Koita and Omar Jarra of Gamtel/Gamcel were given a real run for their money by Muhammed Jallow and Ousman Senghore of Olympafrica. In the first set, Olympafrica sent a shock wave to beat Gamtel/Gamcel 21 - 16. But Gamtel/Gamcel make amends to convincingly win the second set 21 - 9 to level the tie and send the game into a tie-break. In the deciding set, Olympafrica were not able to muster the energy as Gamtel/Gamcel beat them 15 - 11 to win the tie 2 - 1. A double delight for the telecom giants, this sends signals of the need for heavy investment in the teams by the management of Gamtel/Gamcel.
Danish side AC Horsens has signed Gambia U20 captain Alhagie Saine on a six-month loan deal. Reports indicated that the club had agreed to extend the deal for an additional three years after the loan period depending on the performance of the 19-year-old. Saine, who plays for Falcons F.C in the Gambia top-tier league is expected to join his new club in early February.This new deal came after the rocky center-back impressed the Horsens technicians in a successful trial at the club. The Gambia U-20 skipper will join the Scorpion centreback and compatriot Jamez Gomez who is a regular starter for AC Horsens.
Brikama began their campaign in the best of fashions when they battered the defending champions Gunjur 3 - 0 in the Super Cup final, to send a strong statement of intent, and proved their status as realistic title contenders.They built on that success to reach the finals unbeaten but were left in shock by a resurgent Sanyang side who rejoiced after clinching the title with a 3 - 2 victory on penalties after a 2 - 2 draw in regulation time.Playing in front of a frenzied home crowd at the Boxbar Mini-stadium, Brikama had all the advantage and had no point of excuse. One would have expected Sanyang to play with enviousness, but the visitors show no sign of panic from start to finish.‘I told my players that Boxbar is like a neutral ground’ Seedia Bojang the Sanyang coach said, and that statement was clearly justified by the aggression and bravery shown by the visitors who could have been two goals up if not for the heroism of the Brikama goalkeeper Ebrima Fadera, who saved two goal bound attempts from Lamin Tamba and Modou Lamin Marong.Ironically, the hosts who were largely under pressure broke the deadlock at the stroke of halftime when Babucarr Sallah orchestrated a simple counter-attack down the right before whipping in a cross that was side-footed into the net by the unmarked Modou Lamin Ndow for a Brikama breakthrough.Even after the halftime team talks, Brikama were still not able to establish what they needed to do to stop the free-flowing and attack-minded Sanyang side, and it could have been 1 – 1 if not for the brilliant save from Ebrima Fadera who tipped over a powerful drive.But in the 51st minute, Fadera was not able to find his magic gloves, as the visitor drew back on level terms when the ever-improving and outstanding Lamin Tamba with his nimble feet and immaculate skills rolled home a close-range attempt to send the visiting supporters into raptures. And, in the 67th minute, Sanyang came close to adding to their lead when Khalipha Darboe had his tame effort beat the rushing goalkeeper but a recovering defender cleared the ball ‘off the line’. Sanyang appealed for a goal but the referee and his assistant ignored the roaring, as there was no VAR to help them review the incident.Sanyang were then punished for that miss, as Brikama made it 2 – 1 in the 76 minutes when Abdoulie Tamba out-jumped the Sanyang defender to nod home a corner kick.At that moment, Sanyang did not show any sign of despair, they keep attacking Brikama at every presentable chance, and ultimately in the 89th minute, they got rewarded when substitute Abdoulie Sima exploit the gap between two Brikama defenders to glance home last-ditch equalizers which send the game into a penalty shoot-out.During the shootout, Brikama’s goalkeeper Ebrima Fadera saved shots from Ousman Nyang and Muhammed Jallow but that was not enough as both Omar Jarju and Babucarr Sallah of Brikama had their shots rattled the frame before Sanyang’s goalkeeper Sarjo Bah crucially saved Lamin Saho’s shot to earned Sanyang a deserved 3 – 2 win.As champions, Sanyang were rewarded forty-five thousand dalasi, and gold medals, while runners-up Brikama settled for thirty-five thousand dalasi and silver medals.Sanyang would not have been forgiven by their supporters should they lose the final for the second time in a row and that would have been unfair even.But, they put smiles on the faces of their fervent supporters by shocking Brikama in front of their own supporters and make amends for losing the first edition to Gunjur. In the second edition, they are worthy champions, as they clinched the title unbeaten.
Steve Biko's young forward Adama Bojang became the first player to have scored a hat-trick in the 2023 Gambia Football Federation male Division One League. The goals came in his side's 4 - 1 thumping of last season's Football Federation (FF) Cup runners-up Brikama United in week two of the league.A forward who plays with incredible skill, creativity, and strength, first opened the scoring for the host Biko, before the visitors restored parity through Mustapha Drammeh.But the clinical forward added two further goals one of which was a penalty to complete a hat-trick and Yankuba Touray also registered his name on the score sheet for Biko. This was a second win on the spin for Biko and a second consecutive defeat for Brikama United.Nicknamed the 'giant killers', Biko brutally killed one giant and this was a breathless display, one that underlines their transition to the 'giant killers' they were once known for.
It turns out to be a perfect and memorable evening for the Tallinding based wrestler as he ran almost half of the Serekunda West Mini Stadium in jubilation following his long-awaited revenge against Boy Bala to win the Mayor Talib Ahmed Bensuda flag.Boy Bala, as expected, started on the front foot from the referee's first whistle, throwing some half-hearted punches while trying to force Tapha Tine into making an error. But Tapha, who is twice the size of Bala, was determined not to lose for the second time in a row.As the bout was heading for the half-time break, Boy Bala kept pushing for the victory, but Tapha Tine repelled all his attempts. With 9:45 on the stopwatch, Tapha Tine finally performed a double leg tackle on Boy Bala, wrestling him to the ground before running half the length of the ground in jubilation.Elsewhere, it took Gainako of club Ndongo Ceesay less than 2 minutes to wrestle to the ground Selou Bu Ndow of club Ebo Town Mbolo, and clclaimed the flag named after Essa Bokar Sey, Confiyans of club Tallinding United defeated Sora of club Mara in under a minute, Sachess of club Ama Academy got the better of Essindoleh of club Tallinding Japoo. Meanwhile, Samareh of club Saloum Mbolo wrestled down Yareh of club Tysinger Family, Bebe Buwassor of club Bundung Kai Bakh got his first victory in three outings by defeating Express of club Feke Masi Boleh while wrestler Champion Sound of Koloban Wrestling Academy shockingly lost to Boy Sererr of club Paradise Mbolo. The event was witnessed by thousands of fans and dignitaries, including Mayor Bensouda. The cheering crowd saw live performances by Gambia's young music sensation Awa Gambia and Big Banga.
Defending League Champions Hawks FC manifested the form that saw them win the league last season as they emphatically defeated Wallidan 2 - 0 in the season opener. Hawks proved how much they will be a hard nut to crack for the teams when they put the Federation Cup holders - Wallidan to a test that they (Wallidan) were not able to muster.League Champions needed both the first and the second half to get Wallidan where they wanted as Sainey Sanyang and Baboucarr Saho scored a goal in each half to seal a vital victory.Part of the decoration for Hawks as Super Cup winners included a cheque for One Hundred Thousand Dalasis while Wallidan received a consolation of Fifty Thousand Dalasis and silver medals.This is a realistic notice served to the rest of the teams not only about the strength of Hawks but their ambition and hunger for more success. A positive start to the campaign, this will no doubt make Hawks believe that a title defense could be a possibility.
Boy Bala will try to complete an unlikely double over his Tallinding based rival Tapha Tine. The two giants will square off in what promises to be mouth-watering close contest on Sunday 8th January, 2022 at the Serekunda West Mini Stadium.The much talked about encounter, the second of its kind was put together by Champion Sounds. The initial clash in 2018 saw Boy Bala defeat Tapha Tine at ease at the Independence stadium. The two fan favourites will also be battling for the flag named after the mayor of the KMC Talib Ahmed Bensuda.The "lion of Jabang," as he is fondly called, is enjoying a remarkable career with 24 bouts recorded. He won 16 bouts, drew one, and lost just 7 times. He was awarded the best local athlete of the year by the Sport Journalist Association of The Gambia (SJAG) in 2018 and a year later, the Gambia Wrestling Journalist Association (GAWJA) named him as the best middleweight wrestler of his generation. Presently, Bala is on a scintillating form after completing a third victory over Building of Club Serekunda Mbolo in his last bout. Taph Tine, on the other hand, has had 12 encounters in the arena before and succeeded in 8 and lost 4 so far. Unlike his opponent, Tapha Tine came off from a defeat in his last bout to France of club Banjul Saku Ham Ham at the Independence Stadium.Elsewhere, the earlier bouts will see Selou Bu Ndow of club Ebo Town Mbolo take on Gainako of club Ndongo Ceesay, Confiyans of club Tallinding United and Sora of club Mara will each be looking for victory when they faceoff. Both lost in their bouts leading to this one.Meanwhile, Sachess of club Ama Academy will entertain Essindoleh of club Tallinding Japoo, Samareh of club Saloum Mbolo takes on Yareh of club Tysinger Family, Express of club Feke Masi Boleh will battle with Bebe Buwassor of club Bundung Kai Bakh while Boy Sererr of club Paradise Mbolo will take on Champion Sound of Koloban Wrestling Academy. The event is expected to attract thousands of fans and some high-profile dignitaries, including mayor Talib Ahmed Bensuda and a live band performances by some top Gambian musicians.
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