By Sulayman Bah
Raoul Savoy’s charges failed to impress fans and instead ended settling to share the spoils in their opener World Cup preliminary round qualifier.
There has been growing resignation of fans toward the Scorpions after failing to score in two outings in the Afcon qualifiers.
To avoid another spirit-dampener the Swiss was under no illusions of the need for a quick fix of the team setback. Striking profligacy was diagnosed as problem and in the buildup to last Friday’s game, Raoul vowed to render treatment to the hiccup or so he told local media.
Solving the setback he did albeit in a strange way partnering Alagie Sosseh with a plump-looking Momodou Ceesay –whose only contribution was a wayward shot from outside the box.
Tijan Jaiteh –yet to get a minute of club football –got the nod to start in midfield with Ebrima Sohna, Demba Savage and Sulayman Marreh who got subbed along with Futty Danso for injuries before first-half. Sanna Nyassi and Bubacarr Sanneh were summoned as replacements.
Nyassi made an instant impact outracing his marker to let fly a teasing cross but Zico failed to connect. The visitors Namibia flirted with Gambia’s defence and came tantalizingly close forcing Gambia’s goalkeeper Alagie Nyabally to scoop from a Deon Hotto’s weak effort.
The Brave Warriors nearly snatched the lead from re-start after Shilongo danced his way past Kebba Ceesay to link up a waiting Kanjunkia but Pa Modou Jagne timely warded off looming danger.
Captain Abdou Jammeh got booked for tripping a Namibian forward and the resultant free-kick beat Gambia’s Nyabally on goal in the 61st minute. Namibia’s goal was cheered by Gambians spectators in mockery of the Gambian team’s lackluster display. Hamza Barry came on for a tired Zico -Gambia’s only final substitution.
Norway-based Alagie Sosseh who led Gambia’s line in Zico absence, rifled in a free-kick. New entrant Bubacarr Sanneh headed which Abdou Jammeh appeared to touch into back of the net for Gambia’s equalizing goal in the 78th minute.
The return –leg is billed for Tuesday with Namibia on an away goal advantage. The Gambian delegation touched down in South Africa Saturday but without local-based player Modou Jatta and Ebou Kanteh.
Gambia’s gaffer Savoy praised his side’s comeback to force for share of the points but labeled the Scorpions’ first-half ‘catastrophic’.
The 41-year-old, heavily derided for snubbing 17-goal Bubacarr Trawally, deplored fans failure to get behind the Gambian team, which he believes placed his players under intense pressure. The Swiss wouldn’t name names but bemoaned player ‘blackmailing’ and unwillingness to play for Gambia.
His opposing number Ricardo Mannetti was delighted with the Brave Warriors performance –Namibia first away draw in three years. ‘They were business like and stuck to the game plan,’ he said in post-match comment.
The Scorpions will have to do without Demba Savage who is being rested for concoction after a serious collision with a Namibian player.