Five key first team players of the scorpions will miss the international friendly match against Saudi Arabia on Monday 8th January, in Dammam.
The quartet comprising of captain Jatto Ceesay, Idirissa Sonko, Seyfo Soley, Abdoulie Corr, Simone Badjie and Kamal Ndow will not be traveling to Saudi due to various reasons.
Jatto, who is tied up with club duties could not travel because of fixture congestion. The fact that, the friendly is not a FIFA sanction international weekend means that clubs can hold to their players if necessary.
According to AEK Larnaca coach Marios, losing Jatto would be suicidal. “I cannot loose Jatto right now, he is our most important player and with a game on Wednesday 3rd and Sunday 7th against Olympiacos, I would prefer Jatto to stay. I would like the GFA to understand our position in this matter, I need Jatto” coach marios concluded.
Idrissa Sonko, who joined Greek side Skoda Xanthi couple of weeks ago will make his debut on Sunday against Greek giants Olympiacos in Athens and the former Roda man intends to make his mark with his new club following his recent nightmare with the kerkerade club.
Seyfo Soley, is currently locked in contract talks with Racing Genk and the club seems hell bent on making life lot more difficult for the Gambian international.
Seyfo is refusing to sign an extension to his current deal which ends in June whilst the club wants to keep him until 2009.
Seyfo, who has been holding his ground all along with the intension of leaving the club and become a free agent has felt the wrath of coach Eric Groos, who has long relegated him to the second team but Seyfo has refused to concede defeat and is reluctant to release him.
Simone Badjie is reported to be suffering from a knee injury whilst Abdoulie Corr and Dawda Bah travel plans were not in place to enable them to link up with the rest of the squad in Frankfurt.
However, Coach Tony Hey has also drafted in some new faces as replacements and see some of the lads for the first time in action. The new members are Babacarr Ndiaye of German 2nd division side Unterhaching, Pa Malick Joof of Wolfsburg, Musa Bajaha of Virko FC is called in as a cover for Pa Dembo Touray, Pa Saikou Kujabi for the injured Simone Badjie, Aziz Corr Nyang is also given a lifeline in of place Idi Sonko.
Two newcomers Muhammed camara and Tijan Ceesay are also given the chance to impress.
The trip which was supposed to be led by Secretary of state for Youth, Sports and Religious Affairs Sheikh Omar Faye will now be headed by president GFA.
The trip which was almost called off due financial reasons is sponsored by the Saudi FA thanks to the intervention and hard work put in by the coach.
The match is scheduled to be played on Monday 8th January at the Prince Muhammed Bin Fahad Stadium in Dammam at 7.00 PM.
This would have been an ideal preparation for the new head coach who is yet to see some of his first team players in action ahead of the Scorpions next Africa Nations Cup qualifier against Sylli national of Guinea in March but a fixture congestion and club commitment by members of his squad means he is yet to see some of his key players in action.
Amongst the group, the Gambia played the least number of games and remains the lowest rank according to FIFA.
The Gambia has only played three matches from December 2003 to date and going by the data supplied by Fifa, there remains a 12 match difference with our nearest rival In Cape Verde who played a staggering 15 matches whilst Algeria played 27 and Guinea 29 matches respectively.
This friendly preparatory against twice World Cup finalist and giants of the gulf peninsula should go a long way in gauging how far we want to go as a footballing nations. We cannot play down the need for friendliest in our quest for progress in football.
Fail to prepare and prepare to fail woefully.
The list of selected players:
Pa Dembo Touray
Pa Malick Joof
Aziz Corr Nyang
Pa Saikou Kujabi