It is good news that Gambia Football Association officials made a mess of their U20 team by using five overage players against their Liberian counterparts and as a result lost their qualification in the African U20 Youth Championships.
The U-20 Championship finals will be staged in Senegal in 2015 and Liberia’s next opponent is Ivory Coast’s U-20 side.
Though the Gambians did not think they were in the wrong, since they had their own interpretation of the rules, the final results indicated that they were wrong and they would have to live with their attempt to cheat Liberia. At the same time, we must congratulate Liberian sports officials who were alert to recognize, even before their first leg match got underway that The Gambians were on the wrong side of history. It is also painful for The Gambians since they had a better composed team against their Liberian counterparts.
However, cheaters are not to be commended and hence their ill-action with intention to cheat has caused them their own disappointment. While The Gambians now are crying their eyes out after such a humiliation, we in Liberia should reassess our chances and find a way to get prepared. This is important because The Gambians taught us a lesson that we lacked adequate preparation.
It is not shameful to admit that The Gambians had a much improved team. In the Liberian set up were a bunch of players who possessed much energy but lacked effective coordination. They coordinated but it was so poor that they could not plan their effective attacks. In most of their attacks, they could not survive when they came near The Gambia U-20’s defensive area.
Considering that The Gambians had nine corner-kicks as against two by Jr. Lone Star, it indicated which of the two teams was determined to win. Their strikers were good on the job and had Liberia’s defense working overtime, more than the reverse. It was as if The Gambians were playing at home. Now, besides The Gambians, the Liberian side needs more playing time together. Fact is, the players were yanked from several clubs and definitely would need more practicing and playing time together, along with test matches to develop some understanding in a competitive environment. In that match they tried to showcase their individualism but it sadly lacked the finesse. Though they are energetic and committed, they lacked the cohesion that comes only from playing together for a considerable length of time. So despite the points awarded by CAF to the give Liberia another chance, if the team does not continue their training and camping before their match against the Ivorians, we will have ourselves to blame. In that case it would not be the players who are not committed and unpatriotic but our poor preparation.