Minnows Gambia plot another Bafana Bafana ambush
A goalless draw with 2012 African champions Zambia at the start of the week gave the Gambia a morale booster ahead of the challenge of Bafana Bafana in their African Nations Cup qualifier in Banjul on Saturday.
But with the country’s foreign-based players trickling in to join the squad, it was mostly a home-based outfit that played in the friendly international at Bakau Stadium, where Saturday’s Group M game will also be hosted.
The friendly was played to virtually empty stands but a capacity crowd is expected when coach Ephraim "Shakes" Mashaba’s team blow into town.
Gambia, whose national team is nicknamed the ‘Scorpions’, will also be buoyed by the inclusion of four foreign-based players who did not feature on Monday against Zambia – forward Babucarr Steve Trawally (Yanbian Fubde, China), defender Omar Colley (Djurgardens, Sweden), striker Pa Amat Dibba (GIF Sundvalls, Sweden) and Yusupha Njie (FUS Rabat, Morocco)
But there are questions marks over the fitness of Modou Barrow, the Gambia’s pin-up star from English premier league club Swansea City.
The 23-year-old Barrow is the only player from the tiny west African nation to have played for a top English club and enjoys hero status at home, even though his Range Rover and BMW X6 were both stoned by home fans in reaction to the home draw with Mauritania in their last continental qualifier in March.
Mashaba shakes up squad Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba says he is giving other players a chance, with one eye on the World Cup qualifiers, after a disappointing campaign in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Born in Banjul but brought up in Sweden, Barrow made his Gambia debut last June when the Scorpions held an embarrassed Bafana to a goalless draw in their opening group encounter in Durban.
Gambia coach Sang Ndong, who took over from the Swiss Raoul Savoy at the start of the year, is set to introduce another starlet to international football in Saturday game.
The 21-year-old right wing is on the books of Serie A club Chievo Verona, although he's spent the past season on loan with Italy third division champions Cittadella.
Spanish-born Bubacar Njie from Chernomore Varna, Bulgaria, is the other newcomer in the Gambia squad.
- TMG Digital