AFCON 2021 Qualifiers: Football commentator, Sang Mendy shares Scorpion’s chances

Gaffer Tom Saintfiet and the boys

By MOMODOU JARJU

Barely three months away to the encounter, Gambia’s counterpart have already started preparation with a test game against Somalia which they won a goal to nil, Foroyaa sports revealed recently.

The encounter was amid home-based players of both countries.

Football commentator, Sang Mendy who is also the managing director of Media Academy for Journalism and Communication (MAJaC), said preliminaries are always tricky ties and if a team cannot win home matches, the chances of qualifying would be minimal.

He said Djibouti is not well known for its football prowess likewise The Gambia cannot be called a footballing nation despite a lot of people in the country love football.

“I don’t know a lot about Djibouti when it comes to football what I understand is that majority of their players play locally and when you have situations like that is easier to regroup the players and train them,” he said.

“The fact that Djibouti actually is playing test matches already is a sign that they are prepared. Madagascar has inspired everyone in the continent that it is possible, because Madagascar came from the preliminaries to the qualifiers, to the African Cup of Nations and they did so well.”

Mr. Mendy, a regular panelist  on GRTS during the past AFON 2019 and weighed on Algeria to defeat Senegal in the final that happened, opined that Gambia would get the better of Djibouti.

The Scorpions who never participated in the finals of the continent’s major tournament, won their previous two test matches before the AFCON 2019 against Guinea Conakry and Morocco respectively, winning each a goal to nil.

 

Mendy said the two victories could inspire the team and is something the people want, for the players to have the positive mind of beating even teams like Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria.

Sang Mendy – L at the GRTS Sports panel

He urged the coach to look for other players before the qualifiers or after the qualifiers.

“Because we want a pool of players where the coach would have a nightmare to select a team that would come for the camp, much more to select a team that would represent us,” he said.

He implored the football federation and the government to try and arrange a test match in September to prepare the players, most of whom are plying their trade in Europe.

Meanwhile, commentators have pegged the Scorpions in the list of favorites in this encounter but their Belgian gaffer Tom Saintfiet is cautious and is not losing sight of a possible shock his opponent might pose despite revealing his satisfaction of the pairing.

Speaking to a local newspaper few days ago, Saintfiet said his boys’ win against big nations in the last 12 months is enough testimony that his team is on the right track but cautioned that they have to respect their opponent “because they have young players on development stages and one cannot rule them out.”

He however called for early preparation to ease their win.

Play-off games kick off in October 7-15, while the group stage starts in November 2019 and the last round of the qualifiers will be in November 2020.

If the Scorpions defeat Djibouti, they would join Gabon, Angola and Congo DR in group D.

48 nations will battle for a spot at the biennial championship, of which only 24 will qualify.

Two teams from the 12 groups consisting of 4 nations would progress to the continent’s flagship competition.

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