GAMBIA FACES NAMIBIA IN OCTOBER

It is less than a month before the Scorpions of The Gambia return to action against the Brave Warriors of Namibia in the preliminary round for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

FIFA conducted the 2018 World Cup draw in Russia, host of the next global show down, in three years’ time.

Namibia was one of the 26 lowly ranked teams in Africa that went into the first round of draws which will be played in two-legged home and away ties.

If Gambia beats Namibia, the Scorpions will face Guinea in Round 2, along with 12 other winners from the first round. The highly ranked 27 African nations received a bye in the first round and will only start getting active in the second round. That means there will be 40 teams who will also play two-legged home and away ties.

The 20 winners from the second round will be drawn in five groups of four nations, playing home and away. The respective group winners will qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The Gambia and Namibia have only clashed twice before, in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. Gambia won the first encounter against Namibia with a 3-1 score line in Banjul on 4 September 2010. Exactly a year later on 3 September 2011, Namibia defeated Gambia 1-0 in Windhoek.

The World Cup qualifying match will be their third and perhaps most important encounter as both sides have never qualified for the finals of the world’s biggest single event.

But how prepared are the head coach Raoul Savoy and his employer (The Gambia Football Federation) ahead of his encounter, after the team’s 1-0 loss at home to the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in the AFCON qualifiers?

Will Morocco be the preferred choice of destination for the team’s camping again even though playing at home? Are we going to see a different approach and new faces in the squad? Will there be a better organisation by the GFF organising committee and will the fans turnout to cheer the boys despite the mishap in the last game? Will Savoy embark on his tour of Europe to meet Gambian players again? And is GFF planning for any test game (s)?

The September 6th game was one that many Gambians were expecting a victory, following the boys’ performance in a goalless stalemate with the Bafana Bafana in South Africa to back-up their optimism.