By Sulayman Bah
From being whisper of the village to talk of the town –Ebou Adams has come of a fascinating journey.
Gone are the days when six or fifth division footballers are accorded a place in the current Gambia national team.
However, in the midst of big-names playing in fairly impressive European leagues, Adams still managed to squeeze himself into a set up where the gaffer is more than spoilt for choice.
Handed his first call-up in the away test games against Morocco and the Central African Republic, the 22-year-old, a surprise inclusion then, was summoned by former coach Sang Ndong after withdrawals hit the squad.
It followed the absence of UK-based Modou Barrow, Mustapha Carayol, Tijan Jaiteh and Boavista’s Yusupha Njie.
Raymond Mendy, then in the Maltese Premier League, was the other defensive midfielder confirmed unavailable for the fixtures.
Nonetheless, Ebou was granted playing time but it came in paltry sums. His real breakthrough reels on the back of Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet’s appointment as Sang Ndong’s replacement whose contract as Scorpions’ manager reached its sell-by-date.
Tom’s first game in charge of Gambia’s Africa Cup of Nations 2019 qualification was beset by a fall-out between him and the players.
A couple of disgruntled stars, umbraged by the new coach’s selection choices which sidelined China-based striker Bubacarr Trawally, did not sit well with key figures of the dressing room including ex-captain Omar Colley of Sampdoria.
A revolt, in the form of abstaining from the Algeria match, mainly from Trawally’s national team player bosoms, soon ensued with West Ham United reported transfer target Hamza Barry one of those opting to stay away.
Integral as they might be, Tom, a fire-brand character type determined not to be held ransom by this rebellion, decided to move on and replace the aforesaid players.
Adams was one of those trusted to step up and he has risen to form a triumvirate of a midfield comprising Sulayman Marreh and Ebrima Sohna. And against a solid Algeria, boasting an all explosive Riyad Mahrez, the lad loaned to the English sixth tier by Norwich City, defied the odds, fitting into the equation like a jig-saw puzzle.
He hasn’t looked back since, taking all challenges thrown at him with almost relative ease.
Though devoid of the creativity Hamza Barry exhibits, the former Lyon Orient’s playmaker has helped soften the task of namesake Ebrima Sohna, tidying the midfield and forcing one-time star Tijan Jaiteh to watch proceedings from the bench.
At club level, statistics suggest he merits a call-up. Ebou won Leyton Orient’s goal of the season gong at the club’s end-of-the-league awards night.
As pressure chips in coalesced with mounting expectations on back of an prepossessing stint in Lome last Friday, there is huge belief this maverick will be handed the nod in the second-leg today against the Sparrow Hawks at the Independence Stadium.
There is no denying of the latent he’s but how he comports himself to boss the midfield will go a long in his effort to endear himself to fans.