Post-Match Reaction: Gambian Coach Explains Scorpions’ Game Plan Against Mali

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Gambia’s Head Coach Tom Saintfiet

By Momodou Jarju

The Gambian head coach Tom Saintfiet has explained his game plan in post-match reaction after his-led team drew 1-1 against Mali last Sunday at the ongoing Afcon finals in Cameroon.

Speaking to the press after the game, Coach Saintfiet said the Scorpions wanted to punish the counterparts on counterattacks and had two free-kicks, with one hitting the crossbar and the other hitting the goal post. With a bit of luck, he said the Scorpions would have led the scoreline in the first half.

“Mali is a fantastic squad with a lot of individual qualities, but also as a team they performed fantastic. You saw it today. They had a lot of ball possession. We created a very good block. My team defended very well. That was the game plan. We were not willing to have ball possession,” he said.

Commenting on Mali’s penalty, he said it’s not really clear to him and he had to see it again to be convinced whether it was a penalty or not. The Belgian tactician was quick to add that the reaction of the team was brilliant. He said the players’ mentality to step up and equalise before the end of the game was fantastic. The gaffer further said that the Scorpions have so much quality but they have to be realistic too.

“We have to dream. But when we wake up we have to keep our feet on the ground and work and battle. Because there are so many good players in African football. There are so many good teams in African football. Africa is so rich with so many quality teams and hopefully in the near future we can put Gambia in that long list of quality teams. But now we are just a small child who is coming and looking and hopefully we grow up between them,” he said.

Saintfiet also disclosed to the press that the minister of youths and sports, Bakary Badjie who arrived in Cameroon on Sunday and witnessed Mali’s match, sent cash to pay for double bonus, which he opined could have motivated the players. 

“So, it’s amazing. Four points after two matches as making your debut and next came against Tunisia again, a difficult one. Top teams like I said, number 30 on the FIFA ranking, 130 positions better than us. But I think we have proven to Africa and the world something that we have qualities. We want more. We play every game to try to get the best result according to our quality compared to the opponents’ qualities,” he said.