By: Muhammed Lamin Drammeh
The head coach of the senior national team of the Gambia, Tom Saintfiet has said he was always confident before the return leg against Mali amidst public outcry over his style of play after a lacklustre performance in the first leg in Bamako where the Scorpions were defeated by two goals to nothing.
Speaking to the GFF media after the narrow one-nil win over Mali in Morocco yesterday, Tom mentioned that he was always confident and claimed that the public doesn’t calculate what was going on.
“I was always confident. The public sometimes doesn’t calculate exactly what is going on. We had a plan, and we had discussed it in advance. We said we prefer more points, but three points help a lot,” he pointed out.
The scorpions’ skipper Omar Colley led by example and inspired the scorpions to a very crucial victory when he headed in a goal from Ebrima Colley’s stunning delivery from a set-piece.
The Gambia now has 6 points but languishes behind Congo who has equal points, but the latter has a head-to-head superiority over the Scorpions following their 1-0 over the Gambia in the second group games.
When the Gambia lost against Mali in Bamako, scores of Gambians took to social media criticizing Tom Saintfiet’s style of play, and many even called for his sacking. However, for Tom, there was never a doubt about winning the return leg. He said that this is African football, and a side cannot win all the games.
“There was never a doubt with us. People sometimes forget also in the previous qualification, we lost to Congo away, Gabon away, and we drew Congo at home. This is normal. This is African football, we do not win every game,” he said.
Speaking further on his side’s chances of making it a back-to-back AFCON appearance, the Belgian posited:
“We are in a good position. We are still on the same track, the same track as what we did a few years ago. “
The scorpions will now have to win South Sudan and hope Mali wins against Congo to make their dream of a back-to-back AFCON a reality.
If the Gambia wins against South Sudan and Mali avoids defeat against Congo, the Scorpions will only need a point against Congo at home, which may be at the Independence Stadium, to secure a ticket to the Ivory Coast for the 2023 AFCON.