By Momodou Jarju
In what seems to be a huge setback, the warm-up games that the Gambia’s national team was scheduled to play against Algeria and Syria in the Qatari Capital Doha, has been called off.
According to the Gambia Football Federation (GFF), the warm-up games were cancelled due to the unavailability of the 16 players which represented 57% of the final 28-man squad of the national team.
“This is as a result of the fact that the Belgian is currently been deprived of the services of the following players due to several unforeseen circumstances: Lamin Jallow; Bubacarr Jobe; Baboucarr Gaye; Omar Colley; Ebrima Sohna; Saidy Janko; Sheikh Sibi; Noah Sonko Sundberg; Yusupha Njie; Steve Trawally; Ebou Adams; Ibou Touray; Modou Jobe; Ablie Jallow; Modou Barrow; and Yusupha Bobb,” the GFF statement indicated.
“Because we do not also have a goalkeeper, we are forced to call off our matches against Algeria and Syria. We have so many unpredictable situations and this is making it very difficult to prepare for AFCON, that we are not happy with, but no one is to be blamed,” Saintfiet told www.gambiaff.org.
“We are missing so many key players at the moment, some of whom are here in Doha already but are not available to train. Some of them are not even here. So it is a very complex situation. It is very sad because I was really looking forward to playing Algeria and Syria to prepare for the AFCON,” Saintfiet said.
The senior scorpions were supposed to face the Desert Warriors of Algeria last Saturday at the Qatari Sports Club in Doha and then square off with Syria this Wednesday. However, both matches have now been called off at the request of the Gambian team, the GFF said in their statement.
Algeria, who are pitted against Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea in Group E, are among the tournament’s favourites. They head into Afcon having won the FIFA Arab Cup recently and are also the reigning champions of the tournament.
The two warm-up matches were supposed to be part of the senior scorpions’ preparations ahead of the Afcon which kicks off this Sunday in Cameroon. Gambia’s squad is currently on a 10-day camp in Qatar preparing for its maiden appearance in the continental flagship tournament, after decades of trying to no avail. The senior scorpions are in Group F, and they are pitted against Mali, Tunisia and Mauritania.
“The Gambia will begin its campaign against Mauritania on January 12th before taking on Mali four days later, and round up their group campaign with the 2004 Champions Tunisia, on 20th January 2022,” GFF indicated in its statement.