By Eniola Olatunji
…Beat Baby Scorpions of Gambia 2-0 in CAF U20 finals.
Cub Lions of Senegal on Saturday lifted for the first time the CAF U20 African Youth trophy beating the Baby Scorpions of Gambia 2-0 in a scintillating encounter at the Cairo International Stadium in Egypt.
The two goals were classical headers that stunned the Gambian defence. First, 17 year old Academie Foot Darou Salam De Dakar Attacker since 2005, Mame Mor Faye who jumped above all in the 7th minute from a perfect cross from Amidou Diop. Lamine Camara made it two in the 56th minute also from a header from a Mame Faye cross.
Poor Gambians they did not read the game at all as the Senegalese shoved; kicked and blocked all their moves literarily with their teeth not minding the foul calls of Ref Mahmoud Ahmed Nagy from Egypt. The Gambians were wasteful in the few opportunities they had.
Senegal had 11 shots at goal 5 of them on target while Gambia had 8 shots at goal with none on target; Gambia was in virtual control of the game with 57-43% possession stringing 416-314% passes with 67-59% accurate passes.
Senegal’s winning strategy was not to bother with foul ratings but collect the ball and make ballistic shots at goal anywhere from 25m distance, so Senegal had 23-14 foul calls two of which should have attracted straight red cards but the only 3 yellow cards of the match went to Senegal who was caught offside four noticeable times. The Gambians wasted 6-4 corner kick advantages.
19 year old Goalkeeper of AS Picme FC of Senegal, Landing Badji was impeccable throughout the tournament as he kept a clean straight not conceding a single goal throughout six games the country played in the tournament. Very incredible though his counterpart from Gambia who conceded no goal like him in five matches allowed two goals flow past him in the finals.
Senegal shocked most recognized Champions, Flying Eagles of Nigeria 1-0 in group A opener; slayed Mozambique 3-0; sentenced hosts Egypt to a permanent position of shut up 4-0; dismissed Benin Republic 1-0 in the quarterfinals before trouncing Tunisia 3-0 in the semifinals.
Gambia beat Tunisia 1-0 in group opener; beat Zambia 2-0; defeated Benin Republic 1-0; Scored her highest goals in a single match by humiliating debutante South Sudan 5-0 in the quarterfinals before fixing Nigeria 1-0 in the semifinals.
Both Senegal and Gambia never appeared in the finals of the Youth championship. Senegal lost the opportunity to appear in the finals three consecutive times in 2015; 2017 and 2019 when the country lost to Mali in the Semifinals. Gambia lost two chances in 2007 and at the last competition in 2021 winning the Bronze like Senegal.
As the Baby Scorpions wept without anyone to console them, Kenyan Writer’s words, Ngugi Wati’ogo in WEEP NOT CHILD came scrolling. “Weep not Child, weep not my darling, the ravening clouds shall not long be victorious”. Words from my Literature book in 1973 still remembered in 2023.
The Senegalese who were obviously overjoyed going into the world U20 cup in Indonesia in May this year as African Champions were amazing in their dancing steps. “WHEN THE LORD TURNED OUR CAPTIVITY CAPTIVE, WE WERE LIKE THEM THAT DREAMED DREAMS IN EGYPT.” Not in Zion as the Holy Scriptures wrote. Senegal had beaten Algeria to become African Beach Ball Champions this year and now they are African U20 champs. They are current African Senior Football team Champions.
Nigeria still holds the record of seven times African Champions followed by Ghana who are four times Champions.
Eniola Olatunji reporting.