<![CDATA[By Sulayman Bah Raoul Savoy is the new bloke to front Gambia’s audacious bid for a slot in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. As a matter of fact Gambia has never qualified for the Afcon and the Swiss-born is tasked to break that hoodoo. But just who’s Raoul vowing to walk Gambia on a path we have never stepped. We lay bare five things you probably don’t know about the Scorpions’ gaffer.
- He will be turning 42 this week and being offered Gambia coaching job couldn’t have been a juicier birthday gift. His appointment ends speculation over the hot-cake Gambia managerial role and brings to the fore a renewed sense of hope -hope to believe that the long elusive qualification spot could be at last delivered. But while fans dare to hope – with the thrilling news Modou Barrow and Mustapha Carayol, the country’s most covered professionals could join up – it’s crucial to note Savoy is not your first season instant success coach. A catalogue of appointments in a coaching career beginning in 2002 speaks volumes. Cameroon’s Elite One club Tonerre Yaoundé FC is one reference point. He was shown the exit door by club chairman Antoine Essomba Eyenga after fans called for the Swiss-born’s head or the club board to resign on the back of drop of an acrimonious domestic season. That term, he led the capital-based outfit finishing as finalists in the CAF Cup. Such a success at continental level would have placated for the pains suffered in the league but not for the faithful at Yaounde as the club wasted no time to rid themselves of the Raoul. Similar tales of one-stints with Moroccan sides SCC Mohammedia, Ittihad Tanger and Algeria’s MC El Eluma followed. However with Gambia, he’s expected to see out his two-year deal and attain the cut out target of at least qualifying the nation.
- Filling the boots of a coach is no tea party and so is being a Gambian coach. With impatient fans anticipating results to begin rolling in, one could be tempted to ask ‘is he the fitting profile or has he the guts to take over the hot-seat’? On account of the bumpy path he’d walked to the level he’d risen up, the conclusion can only be Savoy can withstand mounting pressure. Despite little success he’d overseen in a number of clubs, the erstwhile former Xamax Neuchatel tactician had shown he can thrive under sustained pressure and with crisis-rocked teams. MC Oran of Algeria were headed for a disastrous campaign after a flurry of unprepossessing displays before Raoul stepped on board guiding the side to avoid demotion in the face of nagging fans.
- With over ten year experience -six spent in North Africa – the 41-year-old styled himself ‘as team unifier’, a catch phrase he donned in a bid to unifying the different factions fighting to gain control through football while he was coach at the troubled C.A.R. such an ambition fell flat on its face after the government there blocked budget plan for test matches. Sainte-Croix-born Savoy has coached over three African national teams but statistics during his stints there make no impressive reading as he failed to qualify any of those sides to the Africa Cup of Nations. This particularly could sound worrying for Gambian fans but Raoul is not one to be deterred by past blips at least so he claimed during his last weeks’ unveiling.
- The former Sion II FC manager is Gambia’s most journeyed coach than we previously had, changing teams at an alarming rate of almost every two years. A goalkeeping career truncated by injuries, Savoy began his coaching career in Africa and now holds a Uefa A License. He is the second youngest foreign coach to have ever taken the Scorpion managerial task after German-born Antoine Hey and, to his credit, can speak five international languages including English thus is expected to have no qualms in sending his message across to his new players.
- What may however be worrying is his rate of winning games. Statistics have shown Luciano Mancini is the only Gambia coach with 0.0 percent of winning ratio. The second lowest is Antoine Hey on 28 but with a bigger chance of drawing games. Home-based gaffer Bonu Johnson boasts of 37.5 percent of wins, 0.0 percent of draws and a massive 62.5 percent of likely losing points according to trainer profile transfer market. Savoy, on the other hand, enjoys an improved likelihood of winning scoring 33.3%, 37.8% on draws and 28.9% on losses. Winning will be best preferred over stalemates, and Raoul must up that part of his ratio if becoming a success story with the Gambia national team is outlined target. Predecessor Bonu Johnson has favoured 4-2-3-1 fixture and such a formation could stick around with the Scorpions with the 4-2-3-1 also Saovy’s favourite.