Gambian Girls Make Heroic Return
The Gambia Women U-17 football team on Monday returned home to a heroic welcome after they secured a place at the 2012 Azerbaijan World Cup with a 2-1 defeat to Tunisia in the return leg of the final round of World Cup qualifiers.
The Gambian side took a slender 1-0 lead to Tunis from the first leg and had to recover from an early own goal to score two quick goals through Adama Tamba and Awa Demba for a 2-1 win on the night.
The team arrived from Tunis on Monday afternoon via Dakar at the Banjul Ferry Terminal and were received on arrival by the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Youth and Sports Mambanyick Njie, the chairman of the GFA Alhaji OB Conateh, vice chairman, Omar Sey and other officials from the Ministry and the Gambia Football Association.
The players were escorted from Banjul via Cape Point and then to Bakau before they finally made a stop at the Independence Stadium where they were also greeted upon arrival by the staff of the National Sports Council and the National Youth Council.
Speaking to reporters as he received the team at the foot of the Ferry, PS Njie said he was elated with the achievement of the team and said he expected every Gambian to feel the same. He added that his Ministry will host the team to a party in the next week or a fortnight to celebrate their achievement.
PS Njie further revealed that his Ministry will also send the team to an overseas training camp where they will continue to prepare ahead of the finals that will be hosted by Baku, Azerbaijan in September and October of this year.
Also speaking at the arrival of the team in Banjul on Monday, OB Conateh opined that securing qualification at the first attempt by the team will serve as a good omen for Gambian football. "Let me use this opportunity to welcome you all home and congratulate you for your achievement. When I got the call on the day fromTunisia that you have qualified, we could not believe it because you have made a record by securing qualification at your first attempt and we have saluted you," he said.
Fisco Conateh further thanked the team for securing qualification away from home, and assured them the support of the GFA all the way. But he was quick to caution the technical team against resting on its laurels and past achievements. He said they hope to put up a repectable performance in Azerbaijan and be among the last fourat the tournament.
The vice-chairman of the GFA who also doubles as the spokesperson for the Normalisation Committee, Alhaji Omar Sey described the qualification as a victory for every Gambian especially for female football. He congratulated the girls and their technicans for a good job.
Also present at the Banjul Ferry Terminal were other members of the national team that did not make the trip to Tunis and members of the Scorpions Fans Club who entertained the gathering with drumming.