The Gambia has finally surrendered their CHAN preliminary tie at home going down 4-1 on aggregate to closest neighbors Senegal. The return leg which was anticipated to witness a prospective magical comeback story for the Young Scorpions later turned out to be another journey of sadness, disappointment and an evening of immense despair in Gambian football.
Coach Peter Bonu Johnson made a few changes to the lineup that conceded three goals in Dakar, but the Scorpions started business with no hunger to shake Senegal, who scored through Muhammed Wally Ndoye 7th Minutes into the start. Te Young Scorpions could not create chances and hence left the visitors defended the tie that was effectively sealed as time clocked d down before the Tunisian referee whistled the end of first half.
Upon resumption in the second period, Peter Bonu Johnson, effected some substitutions to amend for good but was effortless as Gambian fans rowed for goal even with an equalizer especially against nemeses like Senegal. Many chances were created at the Senegalese goal mouth but all went vain.
This was a team that received one of the best preparations for any Gambia national team in recent years. They trained for a couple of months in Banjul and were sent on a week training camp, preparing at one of the best sports facilities in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, but Bonu was adamant that inadequate preparations cost them a place in the next round.
â€œLooking at our previous team that made history, we were preparing for so long with the team, starting from when I was managing the U-17 where we started with a peace tournament,â€ he said at a post-match press conference.
â€œIf we want the team to do well we should have a long-term planning and good preparation. A team should not be planning for one or two months before a tournament.â€
He said his team created several opportunities to score a goal but added they were not relaxed in front of goal. He did commend them for what he described as a wonderful performance. He also blamed bad luck for the loss.
Christopher Allen, the Gambian captain and the goalkeeper on the night expressed sadness for conceding four goals against Senegal over two legs. He said they played very well during the return leg, claiming that their opponents only capitalized on the â€œonly chance they gotâ€ during the game.
Moustapha Secka, the Senegalese coach said they only came to Gambia to secure qualification. â€œWe have each game with its plan because we know that for Gambia to score they need to attack and with that attacking we will also capitalize on our chances which will make it very difficult for The Gambia,â€ he said.
Secka said his team concentrated more on their defensive game than attacking in preparation for this game. He also commended the Gambian side for pushing them hard, opining that the team was a good side but still needs some adjustments.
He told journalists that he was always prepared to qualify his team coming to Banjul and the -1-0 victory was part of that plan. He agreed before flying out that same evening that the return leg proved much easy for Senegal than their home leg.