Fans gear up for Nigeria showpiece
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
As the countdown to the 2009 FIFA Under 17 World Cup intensifies, Gambian fans can't wait to storm Nigeria's south-eastern city of Calabar to cheer up the Baby Scorpions who will start their assault on the third most-prestigious football prize this weekend.
The Gambia are among the 24 qualified teams that will compete in the three-week tournament fixed between October 24 and November 14, 2009. The Baby Scorpions, who will open their group campaign on October 25, against Iran have landed in Calabar barely five days before the grand kick-off.
Prior to their departure on Monday, the coach Tarik Siagy-tutored side already known that they will not be lacking in support in Nigeria as 250 Gambian supporters look set join them. And if the words of the Scorpions Fans Club president Bai Cham are anything to go by, then the Baby Scorpions can always count on a twelfth player in their travelling fans.
"We have played a massive role in previous tournaments we attended and I have no doubt that we would recreate that again when we travel to Nigeria this week," Cham told Observer Sports yesterday. "We have already done our selection and we have had series of rehearsals as we normally do before any major tournament. So we are now only waiting to arrive in Nigeria to show the home fans how we do things."
The national fans club has made two previous outings with the national youth teams, albeit they nearly missed Gambia's group openers in both trips due to late arrivals and Mr Cham has appealed to the concerned authorities to facilitate their early arrival this time around. "I remember in 2005 when we faked a fuel emergency to land in time to watch Gambia's group match against Qatar in Peru and in Congo 2007 we missed the group opener. So I hope that this time around we will arrive in time for the opener." "We want to arrive in Nigeria at least one day before the opener so that we can have a day rest and also familiarize ourselves with the environment," he said.
Elated Cham concluded by pouring praises on Gambian leader, Sheikh Professor Dr Alhaji Yahya Jammeh, who has been sponsoring their trips single-handedly."We want to thank His Excellency for coming to our aid once again. The president has always been there for us and we appreciate his unwavering support," said fans club boss who challenged the private sector and other stakeholders to emulate the president's kind gesture.
Author: Nanama Keita