Reigning Champions Hawks Struggle, Real de Banjul Shine As Domestic Top-flight League Takes Shape

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By Momodou Jarju

The Gambia Football Federation (GFF) Men’s First Division League Baluwo Official Partner wrapped up its week six matches on Wednesday and the league table is starting to take shape.

We tee off with the reigning champions Hawks FC who looked promising when they launched their title defence by beating the country’s most decorated club Wallidan FC 2-0 to claim the GFF 2023 Super Cup at the KG5 Mini Stadium in Banjul on Saturday, 7th January 2023.  

Decorated with a giant trophy, gold medals and a cheque amounting to D100, 000.00, hopes were high for the champions to continue where they left it last season.

On the contrary, it would appear the other teams were ready for the season. After six games played, the reigning champions have failed to live up to expectation, languishing in the relegation zone (sitting 2nd from bottom) with 4 points.

In reverse, Real de Banjul continue their stellar start to the season as they continue their unbeaten run. The Whites thumped Samger FC 5-0 in Basori on Wednesday to secure top of the table spot with 14 points, 2 points clear of 2nd-placed Steve Biko.  Modou Lamin Demba scored a brace for Real and Abdoulie Ceesay, Salifu Colley and Ousman Kujabi also registered their names on the scoresheet.

Steve Biko FC were table toppers on Tuesday after crushing Greater Tomorrow 3-1 at the Box Bar Mini Stadium in Brikama. The Giant Killers leveled with Fortune (who had a game in hand) on 12 points. 

The Gambia U-20 duo Adama Bojang and Ismaila Manneh who have been their star performers for Steve Biko put their names on the scoresheet with the former opening the scoreline just two minutes into the game and the latter making it three nil after the hour mark, following Lamin Sillah’s second goal before the break. Steve Biko will miss the duo when they depart with the U20 to the African Cup of Nations in Egypt, which is set to start in 10 days time.  They now occupy second spot on the league table.

Falcons FC have marred Fortune’s opportunity of topping the league with a 1-0 win against the Petroleum Boys at the Box Bar Mini Stadium in Brikama. A win for Fortune would have given them 15 points and thus to the table. Falcons though have moved up to 5th place with the win on 11 points. Bakary Touray scored for them in the 13th minute.

Buba Hydara’s brace earned Team Rhino a vital win against PSV Wellingara in a three-goal thriller at the LOSFF. Hydara gave his side the lead in the 46th minute before PSV Wellingara’s Abdoulie Danso leveled the scores in the 71st minute. Four minutes later, he restored the lead for Rhino. The defeat kept PSV Wellingara on rock bottom of the table with just a point, while Team Rhino moved from 9th position to 6th with 10 points, a goal better than GAF.

Waa Banjul missed the chance to get out of the relegation zone when they lost to 10-men Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) in the final 10 minutes of the game after Ensa Touray was sent off. Played at the Bakau Mini Stadium on Tuesday, GAF snatched a late 1-0 win courtesy of Emil Sambou in the 86th minute. With the win, GAF moved to 7th place with 10 points, while Waa Banjul occupy 14th with 4 points.

Marimoo FC were held to a goalless draw by Banjul United at the Late Ousman Saho Football Field on Tuesday—a result which placed them 3rd with 12 points. Banjul United occupy 11th with 7 points after 6 matches.

Gamtel FC dropped to 9th place in the pecking order after sharing the spoils with Brikama United on Tuesday at the Banjul’s mini stadium. The latter occupy the 12th spot with the same points as Greater Tomorrow (5) who sit below them in the danger zone.

Elsewhere, Wallidan beat Hawks one nil at the Banjul Mini Stadium on Wednesday to further ruin the defending champions’ poor start to the season. Hawks’ Mass Njie missed a spot kick in the 19th minute saved by Ahmed Tijan Savage. Dawda Darboe tap-in Abdoulie Manneh’s cross to give Wallidan the match’s lone goal in the 62 minute. Wallidan have moved to 8th spot with 9 points.