The twelve-team football tournament sponsored by First International Bank came to a close in the most thrilling and dramatic fashion at the national stadium in Banjul on Friday night.
Gunjur defied the odds and live up to their pre-tournament billing to win by force with drive, passion and administrative support from the sponsors and the larger community to pull off one of the king-size surprises in the history of the Super Nawettan championship and by extension the Gambian football fraternity in general.
After having negotiated their way past a tough group, Gunjur again punched above their weight when they dumped heavyweights Brikama in the quarterfinals and later saw off the challenge from Sukuta to reach the finals.
With large pool of talents, impactful and imposing and sometimes intimidating fans club, Gunjur emerged as powerful force through hard work, team spirit and above all fighting for each other through the championship.
Buoyed by their super seriousness, youthful exuberance and left-wing approach, Gunjur’s charm and patience made life difficult for Banjul, a team known for their technical and tactical superiority, but were occasionally blindsided by the marauding Gunjurians.
An early goal from the City Boys was a breath of life into the game but the long range strike by Salifu Bojang of Gunjur few minutes before the end of first half served as a notice to the Banjulians that Gunjur is a serious emerging powerhouse in community football and their partnership and readiness to fight for each other remained on course and core to their success.
Despite the colourful and playful second half moves by the City Boys, the southerners with their eyes set on the ultimate prize were comforted by the appearance of imminent citizens of the coastal town which included Seyfo Sheriffo Janneh as the cheerleader-in-chief and the good luck charm of Gunjur. Such a high portfolio presence by the local authority was motivational and encouraging and has a positive and memorable impact on the overall outcome of the match; thus, confirming the saying that “football is a school for life” and it is therefore, a collective responsibility and a patriotic duty to ensure a progressive growth of the game by all and sundry.
The reassuring and outstanding performances of both teams came to light in the second half but Gunjur made swift head way midway through the second period and their hard work and perseverance paid off and rewarded with a penalty that was converted by Malang Jassey with only three minutes remaining.
At the close of business at the Independence Stadium, the fans were justifiably overwhelmed with joy and stormed the main bowl of the stadium to celebrate their hard work and patronising partnership that has played extraordinary and transformative role in reaching the finals.
By being a focused team and the new luxury champions of 2016 community football jamboree, Gunjur are without doubt the new kids on the block and their victory is both academical and sporting which was borne out of years of strategic planning, wise counseling and perfect execution.
The victory did not only represent a change of guard but it has also brought an end to the dominance of the so-called big boys of the Super Nawettan competition.
Let me through this medium congratulate you, our distant cousins from the fool’s paradise on your outstanding performance and your monumental victory. The 23 years wait is finally over. This is your finest hour and please enjoy to the maximum.
by Abdou Salaam Jammeh