The opening round of fixtures in the GFF First Division closed today after two institutional giants clashed at the Independence Stadium. The 1-1 draw between champions Armed Forces (GAF) and Ports Authority (GPA) was a battle from the first whistle and both teams provided their fair share of eye-catching football to please the watching spectators.
It was GAF who made the brighter start, keen to live up to their billing as champions and send a strong message to their rivals. A defensive error was capitalized on and Saikouba Ceesay continued where he left off from last season to open the scores with a composed finish after being presented the opportunity to beat the goalkeeper 1v1. It was a familiar story for GAF and Ceesay, who led the scoring charts last season and who was again off the mark this time around.
GPA were forced to re-group and fashioned chances of their own and were duly rewarded when the ageless Dimingo Manneh showed his class with an exquisite finish that floated over GAF captain and goalkeeper Baboucarr Ceesay for the equalizer. The second half continued with end-to-end football, with GPA looking the most threatening as coach Alagie Sarr’s Ferry Boys were intent on controlling the game and dominating possession. GAF coach Ebou Jarra was watching from the stands, serving a suspension, and it was left to assistant Ebrima Jatta to conduct proceedings from the touch-line. The Khaki Boys responded well to Jatta’s instructions and were resilient despite the best efforts of GPA. In the closing minutes a brilliant cross from Manneh was met with a firm header by substitute Ebrima Jammeh but his effort was equally met by an astonishing save from Ceesay, who showed why he can be an irresistible force in the GAF goal.
A share of the spoils for the past two league champions and a lesson learnt for GAF who will come up against opponents every week who are eager to put one over on the league title holders.
Man of the Match:- Dimingo Manneh – showed that age is just a number and who rolled back the years with his poise on the ball. His goal was a timely reminder of his talents and when he dictates play, the rest of the GPA team follow suit. A fine display by one of the veterans of the league who proved that ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’.
Elsewhere in the first round of fixtures, Marimoo conquered Real de Banjul with an exquisite free-kick from Ousman Joof to win 1-0. Banjul United came from behind to beat Bombada 2-1, Abdoulie Sarr scoring the winner. Brikama United and Fortune as well as Steve Biko and Tallingding United played out 1-1 draws and Gamtel overcame Hawks 1-0 in a closely fought game. After the opening fixtures, Banjul United top the standings on goals scored.
Banjul Utd 2 – 1 Bombada
Brikama Utd 1 – 1 Fortune
GAF 1 – 1 GPA
Gamtel 1 – 0 Hawks
Marimoo 1 – 0 Real de Banjul
Steve Biko 1 – 1 Tallingding Utd
Stay tuned to the website for future announcements on Player of the Month and Coach of the Month for all the respective GFF leagues.