ang Ndong has returned to the
Gambia hot seat and will draw
on players closer to home for the
forthcoming African Nations Cup
double-header with Mauritania.
A former Gambian international,
Ndong was coaching club side Banjul Hawks and
replaces Swiss Raoul Savoy, who left at the end of
2015 claiming his departure was linked to the
withdrawal of a “dark sponsor”.
Savoy, who has previously been in charge of the
Central African Republic, said: “That made things very
difficult to proceed, to bring in overseas players and
play friendly games. Without money in Africa, it is
difficult. It was a shame as the project was going well.
The players are good. The local football is not very
developed but Gambia has a lot of players outside the
country. There is no reason they cannot do well with a
Under Savoy, Gambia were knocked out of the 2018
World Cup qualifiers by Namibia. Ranked 69 in the
FIFA rankings in 2009, they have since slumped to
165 – close to their all-time low of169.
Gambia under-17s coach Matt M’boge, who was part
of Savoy’s coaching team and will work with Ndong,
says: “The resources didn’t come [for Savoy] but if you
are paying someone a lot of money in Gambian terms
you have to deliver. It all snowballed and people were
saying they didn’t want to keep paying. Expectations
are high when you have a foreign coach. Sang will look
to a lot of home-based players as he knows the league.”
Winger Alhaji Momodo Nije, known as “Biri Biri”,
scored 32 goals in 99 league games for Sevilla in
the1970s, but no Gambian has since scaled those
Modou Barrow joined English Premier League side
Swansea City in 2014, but has spent most of his time
on loan, while Pa Modo Jagne plays for Swiss side Sion.
Most Gambians play in places such as China, Finland,
Hungary and Israel.
A combination of reduced playing time at their clubs
and a long journey home – Bubacarr Trawally plays for
Chinese club Yanbian Fude and it takes him 25 hours
to reach Banjul – are behind Ndong’s shift in focus.
“I’m watching these overseas players and some are
barely getting games,” says M’boge. “We have to be
realistic. We have players here and there, but what are
As Gambians speak English, a soccer scholarship in
the United States has been a route out for the likes of
Abdoulie Mansally and Sanna Nyassi, who play at Real
Salt Lake and San Jose Earthquakes respectively.
United victory in a1-1 draw away
FRANCE: Paris Saint-Germain win
2-1 away to arch-rivals Marseille.
Saint-Etienne move into fourth place
with a 4-1 victory at Bordeaux.
ITALY: Napoli beat Carpi1-0 to claim
a club-record eighth consecutive
league victory and maintain a two-
point lead over Juventus, who win
2-0 at Frosinone.
SCOTLAND: Paul Hanlon scores in
injury time as Hibernian come from
2-0 down to draw 2-2 at local rivals
Hearts in the Scottish Cup fifth round.
Monday February 8
PORTUGAL: Sporting Lisbon are held
to a goalless draw at home by Rio Ave
and miss the chance to go top.
Tuesday February 9
ARGENTINA: Hours after his injury-
time goal puts Huracan into the group
stage of the Libertadores Cup, Diego
Mendoza is one of five players taken
to hospital after their team bus
crashes in Venezuela. The Argentinian
side lost 2-1 to Caracas but went
through on away goals after winning
their home leg1-0.
AUSTRALIA: Marcelo Carrusca
misses a second-half penalty as
Adelaide United lose at home in
continental competition for the first
time in six years, going down 2-1 to
10-man Chinese side Shandong
Luneng in the AFC Champions
League qualifying play-off round.
EGYPT: Al Ahly beat Zamalek 2-0 in
the154th derby meeting between the
Cairo rivals to go seven points clear of
their visitors at the top of the league.
FRANCE: Sochaux, who are second
bottom in Ligue 2, beat Monaco 2-1
in the last16 of the French Cup. GFC
Ajaccio come from behind to win 2-1
at fourth-tier Saint Malo, while fifth
division Granville progress with a1-0
victory over Bourg-Peronnas.
URUGUAY: River Plate of Montevideo,
in their debut Libertadores campaign,
draw 0-0 away to Universidad de
Chile to win 2-0 on aggregate and
qualify for the group stage.
Wednesday February 10
ENGLAND: Liverpool scrap plans to
introduce a top-price £77 ticket in
their new main stand after thousands
of fans left Anfield after 77 minutes of
Saturday’s 2-2 home draw against
Sunderland in protest.
FRANCE: Bordeaux suspend defender
Lamine Sane and keeper Jerome Prior
indefinitely for what the club call a
“serious incident” after their 4-3
extra-time loss to Nantes in the
GERMANY: Huub Stevens steps
New coach seeks new players
Success abroad…Sanna Nyassi plays for San Jose Earthquakes
controls a high
ball in an African
“If you are paying someone
a lot of money in Gambian
terms you have to deliver”
Matt M’boge, part of the national coaching set-up
After making his breakthrough at Portland Timbers,
Mamadou “Futty” Danso now plays for Carolina
Railhawks in the NASL.
“College is a way out because you
get an education too,” says Danso. “If
you are good enough at college you
can be good enough to play in the
MLS or NASL. But when I was at
Portland, the travelling time home
was 22 hours. You have to by
physically and mentally ready
for the international break.”
The journey from the east coast is
less but, under Ndong, Danso could
be spared the trek.
Overseas players will not be
shunned completely and Ndong
will certainly look to the burgeoning
professional league in neighbouring
Senegal. M’boge adds: “There are14
Gambians in the first division and
more in the second. Even Gambians
playing in the second tier would get
four times more games than at home.”
Wages in the Gambian First
Division are only around $30 a month, while Gambians
in the Senegalese top flight earn a minimum of $200.
In contrast, despite entry costing little more than 20
cents, the Gambian league struggles
to compete and crowds are low.
Qualification for the 2017 African
Nations Cup finals would be a major
fillip. Cameroon are expected to win
the group, but Gambia could qualify
as one of the best group runners-up.
“There is still a chance to qualify.
Our backs are against the wall so
we need to win both games against
Mauritania,” says Danso, who remains
keen to be involved.
However, if Gambia do make it
through, that success may be brief.
“Even if we qualify, I don’t think
it’s sustainable with the players we
have,” admits M’boge. “Some have
been playing for the national team
for10 years and there’s hardly any
players coming through.”
Just one more reason why Ndong
will look closer to home in future.
down as Hoffenheim coach and
announces his retirement, saying:
“I suffer from cardiac arrhythmia
and probably have to undergo
surgery in the near future.”
MOROCCO: The Royal Moroccan
Football Federation says national
coach Badou Zaki has left his post by
mutual consent “after 20 months of
instability and inconsistent results”.
SOUTH AFRICA: Ajax Cape Town
reverse their decision and will now
travel to Angola at the weekend to
play Sagrada Esperanca in the African
Confederation Cup after the South
Africa Football Association threatened
the club with severe sanctions.
SPAIN: Barcelona draw1-1 at
Valencia in the Spanish Cup to make
it a club-record 29 consecutive
games unbeaten in all competitions.
Thursday February 11
AUSTRALIA: A-League leaders
Western Sydney Wanderers are
handed a suspended three-point
deduction after fans let off flares and
sound bombs during the1-1 draw
away to defending champions
Melbourne Victory at the weekend.
ENGLAND: Ex-England winger Adam
Johnson is sacked by Sunderland
after pleading guilty to one count of
sexual activity with a15-year-old girl
and one charge of grooming.
FRANCE: Laurent Blanc signs a new
two-year deal to carry on as coach of
SPAIN: Sevilla will meet Barcelona
in the Spanish Cup Final after a 2-2
draw at Celta Vigo sees them progress
6-2 on aggregate.
Friday February 12
FIFA: Former general-secretary
Jerome Valcke is banned from all
footballing activities for12 years.
PORTUGAL: Porto come from behind
to win 2-1 at bitter rivals Benfica.
Saturday February 13
FRANCE: Paris Saint-Germain’s
run of16 consecutive wins in all
competitions comes to an end with
a goalless draw at home to Lille.
GREECE: AEK end Olympiakos’ 21-
game unbeaten start to the season
with a1-0 win, in which three players
are sent off.
ITALY: Juventus go top of Serie A for
the first time this term with a1-0 win
at home to previous leaders Napoli.
Substitute Simone Zaza’s goal two
minutes from time gives Juve a15th
successive league success. Frosinone
win away in the top flight for the first
time ever, beating Empoli 2-1.
MALAYSIA: Johor Darul Ta’zim beat
Selangor on penalties to win the
Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Cup after
WHERE IN THE WORLD?
Located on the coast of West Africa,
the Gambia is a former British colony,
which gained independence in1965.
Size:11,300 sq km
Population: 2 million
Languages: English, Mandinka,
Wolof and Fula
WORLD SOCCER 123