Preparations towards the first ever international club football competition organised in The Gambia reaches its climax after the draw for the 12-team tournament was held at the Oasis Apartment in Senegambia on Wednesday.
The tournament, which will bring together four teams from The Gambia, five from Senegal and one each from Guinea Conakry, Mauritania and Nigeria, is part of celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Real de Banjul.
“The symbolic nature of this draw cannot be overemphasised. This is the first of its kind as far as club football in The Gambia is concerned to bring such clubs together and foster unity within the region,” Bakary K. Jammeh, second vice president of the Club said, while expressing gratitude to its partners within and outside the country.
“This is all geared towards celebrating 50 years of the existence of Real de Banjul and towards the professionalisation of the Club.”
Real de Banjul and Wallidan are the two Gambian clubs to participate in the competition and they would be joined by the finalists of this year’s Super Nawettan tournament. All four teams have been seeded as the top ranked sides across the four groups.
Real were drawn in Group A alongside Olympique de Ngor of Senegal and Mauritania’s FC Nouadhibou while Wallidan are joined in Group B by Senegalese duo Guediawaye FC and Casa Sports. Group C is made up of AS Generation Foot of Senegal and Horoya AC of Guinea Conakry and they will be joined by the winners of the Super Nawettan. Group D consists of FC Ifeanyi Ubah of Nigeria and Niarry Tally of Senegal. The group would be completed by the runner up of the Super Nawettan.
The tournament would begin on Saturday October 29 with Real de Banjul involved in the opening match. The final would take place a week later on November 6.
Speaking after the draw ceremony, Marcel Mendy the executive director of the National Sports Council hailed the founders of Real de Banjul for laying the solid foundations and the present Exco for consolidating those gains.
He encouraged William Abraham [club president] and team to keep up the momentum while urging the other league clubs to learn from them by introducing something similar to this initiative.
He challenged the players to give their best during the tournament, noting that it is an opportunity to showcase their talent to a wider audience, thus availing them possible professional contracts with teams outside of The Gambia.
All visiting foreign teams are expected to be in the country on October 28 with eliminated clubs departing the following day after their match.
by Baboucarr Camara