By Afeseh Apong
The Scorpions of Gambia have had a scintillating run in their first participation at the Africa Nations Cup. The West African Nation has performed beyond imagination, as they remain unbeaten in their four games this far.
Omar Colley and his teammates have dropped points just once, in their one all tie against Mali in the group stage. Wins against Mauritania and Tunisia on the first and last day of play in group F respectively, meant the Scorpions finished top of the Group and their next challenge was group B runners up, Guinea. Musa Barrow’s strike ensured that the Syli National were sent parking, and the Scorpions continue their solo run.
If there is anyone who deserves credit for Gambia’s Scintillating form, then it is their Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet, who has succeeded in inculcating the win hungry spirit into the team, since he took over in 2018.
Tom Saintfiet is noted for his inspirational team talks, which have already won the admiration of many during the AFCON. His ability to galvanize his team and make them real warriors on the pitch, has been top notch.
Tom himself described his team as “killer of big teams,” and it obvious, given their near perfect performances in the past months.
“We beat so many top teams, we are the killer of big teams. We killed all the big ones, but today it will be a fight of discipline and also a fight on the pitch with your hearts. Fight for the team, fight together, fight as lions, fight as scorpions. Go for that. Today, play smart in the first half and be ready, be ready. Come on guys. This was Tom Saintfiet’s pre_match talks in the dressing room in Limbe ahead of their game against mali. Though the game ended on a parity, his team indeed fought as lions and Scorpions and actually did play smart.
Ahead of their eighth final game against Guinea in Bafoussam, Tom Saintfiet delivered another epic dressing speech and this time around, it paid off.
“What happened today and yesterday never seemed, but this makes us stronger. This makes Gambia what we are. On the pitch we battle hard and we go for victory. We’re one team, it doesn’t matter who’s playing the positions, we’re all one team. Play smart, play simple, keep your focus in the game. Don’t give free kicks away in danger zones. Know that they’re good in the air. Play football compact and not too close to the 16, playing fast coming out, with short combinations up front and shoot from the second line.
“Today we got to win as a team. Today we got to write more history. Today you’re gonna show the whole world, not only Gambia that you’re heroes. Every setback we had the last days is nothing because after this match, we celebrate. We celebrate and sing that we are going to Douala to meet Cameroon. Go for it guys,” he concluded.
They surely did show the world that they’re heroes, as they recorded an historic win, and progress to the quarter final in just their maiden AFCON participation.
Now they’re in Douala to meet Cameroon on Saturday as Tom Saintfiet rightly said, and it is yet another opportunity for the Scorpions to continue writing their own history.
Will Tom Saintfiet succeed in get the Venom out of his scorpions to kill the lions? Saturday will certainly tell.
One thing is clear, Gambia might not have the best squad in the continent, but Tom Saintfiet has so far had the best words to motivate his players, as the sweat their jerseys for the pride of the nation.
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