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2019 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers

Gambia’s Coach: Algeria Are Tough But We Can Get good Results

Gambia national team coach Tom Saintfiet believes his side can make a respectable outing in Banjul against a star-packed Algeria.

Gambia national team coach Tom Saintfiet believes his side can make a respectable outing in Banjul against a star-packed Algeria.

The two teams meet in September in the quest to reach the Africa Cup of Nations billed for Cameroon next year.

The Belgian gaffer, making his bow since his signing last month on a nine-month contract, despite admitting of the herculean task ahead, is optimistic his Scorpions can sting their way to success provided there’s backing from home fans.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“Our main asset is our supporters and determination. After, we must accept that it will be very difficult for us to beat a strong team like Algeria, one of the best teams in Africa. The Algerian team is difficult to handle. It is difficult to beat such a team especially for us in the current circumstances, but we will do everything to achieve a good result. In football, there is no mission impossible. It will be difficult but not impossible,”[/perfectpullquote]

the former Namibia boss said.

The globetrotting 45-year-old has already started preparations for the tie against the Desert Foxes and hopes to include few home-based players ahead of the arrival of the 20-man foreign-based contingent September 3rd.

Ahead of what’s to be the first assignment, Tom and his technical staff have already had tongues wagging over the decision to overlook China-based attacker Bubacarr Trawally.

Though the official list of invited players is yet to be disclosed, Trawally is one of those rumored to be out with in-form Switzerland-based striker Assan Ceesay replacing him. Ceesay is expected to partner with free-scoring Musa Barrow who plies his trade with Serie A’s Atalanta.

The Scorpions have never qualified for a senior competition owing to a tight budget, despite boasting a good number of abroad-based players.

A previous outing in Cotonou ended with The Squirrels of Benin stealing a hard-fought 1-0 win.

Photo: Gambia’s national team

Photo: Gambia’s national team

This blip aside, the new gaffer, renowned for his infamous dash to Namibia’s frontiers fearing arrest from Zimbabwe for working without a permit, thinks the new system of two best performers of the group qualifying suits Gambia.

“We must not forget that the change of the competition system suits us a lot. It will not be a single qualified country for the finals. Now, we (Gambia) are more likely to qualify because two teams from each group will go to the finals (Cameroon AFCON group stage). We will try to achieve a good result against the Algerian team. To qualify, it is very important to refuel at home and that’s what we will try to do.”

No Injuries

There are no injury worries in the build-up to the tie for the Belgian and further encouraging is that Gambia has had impressive results against Algeria in recent times.

He said: “I followed the last matches of the Algerian team and I noticed that there are many changes. The Algerian team has declined in terms of results and it is not a secret, but it has potential. There are good players on this team. I will ask my players to be vigilant in the field and not to leave too much space.”

In Djamel Belmadi –The Foxes’ new manager –Tom will be coming up against his former boss at Qatari club Al Gharrafa.

He said this about his opponent in the dug-out to an Algerian tabloid this week: “I hope Djamel Belmadi will succeed. Sincerely, I have a lot of admiration for him. He is a great gentleman with a very strong personality. I know him well since I had the opportunity to work with him in Al Gharrafa. When he joined this club, I was the assistant coach. He knows football well and I hope he will succeed, even if I think that the problem of Algeria is not a coaching problem.

“I saw the Fennecs games when Madjer was the coach and it did not work. Now, Belmadi will definitely bet on the same players, he has to change some things to improve the situation. I wish him good luck.”

Gambia is thrown in a group also comprising of Togo.

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