By Amakye Ansah
# 11. The Gambia 🇬🇲
Nickname: The Scorpions
Appearances: 1 (debut)
Last Appearance: –
Coach: Tom Saintfiet (Belgium)
Best AFCON Results: –
Skipper: Pa Modou Jagne
Player to watch: Dembo Darboe
CAF Rankings: 46
FIFA Rankings: 150
The least ranked team (46) among the 24 participants by CAF, ranked 150 by FIFA. The Gambia indeed is a minnow in association football per their rankings. Their maiden AFCON, how will The Scorpions fare?
Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet knows the magnitude of the task at hand. The Gambia surprisingly topped their group (D) in the qualifiers. They shocked the continent by finishing first in a group with D.R Congo, Angola and Gabon.
Belgian coach Saintfiet announced his final 28 man squad on 21st December. The squad includes Dembo Darboe, the 23-year-old Shakhtyor Soligorsk forward. He won the top scorer in the Belarusian Vysshaya Liga in 2021 with 19 goals. Former Swansea City and Leeds United winger Modou Barrow is also part of the team.
Mahdi Kamara of Saint Ettiene is included in the squad for the first time.
As Roma defensive midfielder Ebrima Darboe, Sampdoria centre back Omar Colley and Bologna’s forward Musa Barrow are all Italy based players called by Tom Saintfiet.
The Gambia in Group F will begin their campaign with a manageable fixture against Mauritania at Limbe Stadium on January 12th 2022. Mali will be their second opponent 4 days later and finish the group with a difficult fixture against Tunisia.
The Gambia is already proud of The Scorpions for being able to qualify for the nation’s first AFCON. Progressing to the knockout stage will be a daunting task but the Scorpion can do it with much determination.
The core of the team
Modou Jobe, one of the longest-serving players in the team will get the nod to be in between the sticks for The Gambia. The 33-year-old former El-Kanemi Warriors goalkeeper has been with The Scorpions since 2007.
Omar Colley is a dependable defender for Sampdoria, full of strength and aggression. He alongside Pa Modou Jagne will lead The Gambia’s defence.
Pa Modou is a regular for The Scorpions and his vast experience will be required in Cameroon. He currently plays for the Swiss fifth-tier side FC Dietikon. The former FC Sion defender is the captain of The Gambia national team.
In midfield, 23-year-old former France U-17 and U-19 midfielder Mahdi Camara will be expected to make his debut for The Scorpions and drive them forward. The Saint Ettiene midfielder is yet to play for The Gambia and will be expected to have a terrific partnership with AS Roma defensive midfielder Ebrima Darboe.
The strength of the team is undeniably the attack. Musa Barrow, Assan Ceesay, Dembo Darboe, Modou Barrow are all equally good forward players and can decide games on their own. A lot will be anticipated from them in the attack.
Modou Jobe (GK)
Pa Modou, Omar Colley, Noah Sonko Sundberg, Buba Sanney (DF)
Ebrima Darboe,Ablie Jallow, Mahdi Camara (MF)
Modou Barrow, Musa Barrow, Dembo Darboe (ATT)
Expectations: Group Stages exit