The statistics of the game favored Gambia’s U-20 national team, the Darling Scorpions, as they stole the show with a lone goal in the 30th minute yesterday against Satellites at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium.
It was in the first leg preliminary round match of the African Youth Championships.
The Gambians created more goals, and wasted all except one in the 30th minute when winger Saloum Faal outran Moses Tokpa to center for Bubacarr Trawally to connect home.
They also earned 9 corner-kicks against two by their Liberian counterparts.
The Gambians showed a more purposeful game, and their strikers, inside left Bubacarr Trawally, winger Saloum Faal and center forward Bakary Daffeh played a more coordinated game.
Their partnership more often than not left their Liberian counterparts struggling to keep pace.
In the post, Gambian goalkeeper Bubacarr Sanyang cooperated well with his defense, but it was the Liberian goalkeeper Abdulai Koulibaly whose effective responses frustrated his attackers who found it easier to shoot the ball off-target, many times.
While the Gambians played, using long range passes to center for the goal, their Liberian counterparts played a crowded midfield and on many occasions restarted their game, by kicking the ball back to their defense.
Liberia’s defender Moses Tokpa had a bad day, as he was left struggling to keep up on three occasions.
It was on one of such occasions that Saloum Faal beat him to the left and made his cross for the winner.
With the 1-0 loss, the return-leg in Banjul, The Gambia places the burden on the Liberian side to win at least 2-0 to be able to qualify in the African Youth Championships.
The drawback was the lack of coordination in the players’ team-work, in such a competitive environment.
The Gambians played much improved and confident game, and striker Ali Sowe was at his best.
His ability to eliminate attacking players aided him to connect the ball with precision. He was strong and fast on the ball, an important asset to the team.
United States based Coach William Tenesio Tarpeh, presently visiting, told the Daily Observer at half time, “The Liberians will have to use the wings, like a triangle and set up the goals,” which could not happen.
Liberia’s goalkeeper Koulibaly was effective and agile, and he showed that he was class of his own.
With youth in his favor, Liberia stands a better chance, and though the results were unfavorable, Liberia stands to benefit if they are made to work together for a longer time.
The Gambians, some of their medics were seen with gloves on their hands, (remember we still have Ebola here) are ahead with the away victory.
“Every game has its own development,” said another coach who has observed football development for a long time, “with proper organization the players could give a different story in the return leg in The Gambia.”
Well, we wait to see.
Liberia: Abdilai Koulibaly, Benjamin Gbamy, Raymond Fancia, Fred Fofana, Moses Tokpa, Titus Kamara, Emmanuel Geeplay, Sam Jackson, Nimely Blamo, Oscar Dorley, Sporo Somah.