What a performance!
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Sports in general, and football in particular, sometimes serves as a cushion against the occasionally strenuous influence of the inevitable political climate.
Last Saturday was historic. Far away in Asia, history was being made, as Turkey was playing an unusual football match with a long time political 'foe', Armenia. And for the first time in quite a long period, a Turkish president was stepping foot on that country's soil. Away in South America, another set of political 'adversaries' - Cuba and the United States - shared the same pitch, while at about the same moment, in Africa, The Gambia was making history.
The Gambian people longed for victory, and the Scorpions answered. They stung; and in the wake of the battle, the nation's desire for victory was satisfied. And now, all focus is on the Senegambia derby. In the meantime though, fans of Gambian football have all the reasons in the world to rejoice at what some football pundits believe is a performance the country had never attained throughout its sporting history.
Not only have we never gotten 8 points in either a World Cup or Nation's Cup qualifier, they say, but also the country, prior to last Saturday's victory, had never gone so close (second; on top of the mighty Lions of 'Terranga') on the table of the same qualifying competitions.
This is a vindication of the GFA's decision to push for a coach in the person of the industrious Paul Put. It is also a vindication of the support sports has continuously received from the leadership of this country, especially from the president of the Republic, who was instrumental in the hiring of this result-oriented coach - we must not forget the invaluable contribution of Africell in this regard.
The Senegalese must have been stunned by the mesmerising performance of the Scorpions, and, undoubtedly, this is sure to arouse intensified preparations in Dakar. This means that the match between the two rivals is sure to be keenly contested. But given the tradition of intensity between supporters of the two countries, especially during situations like this, it is important that we focus our attention to pre-match periods. Ignorance, banditry and bad journalistic influence have been part of the cause of previous problems between fans of the two countries.
In order to avert similar ugly occurrences, however, we must discuss the issues at stake, and the necessary modalities be put in place before the October 11 derby in Dakar. This should be our collective task.