The full list of qualifiers for next May's African Under- 17 finals in Banjul is now known. The qualifying series ended over the weekend and as expected, some of the strongest African countries in youth football made it to the finals. They included Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Mali.
Though the draw has not yet been made, the very presence of the big shots is scary enough for the host, Gambia.
Assistant coach, Bonu Johnson, said the most important thing was for The Gambia to prepare well and that did not seem to be happening at the moment. “All these teams will certainly put forward a strong team and a good training programme. We cannot do that as long as we stay here,'' Bonu said. Asked to elaborate, Bonu said the start of the football league meant that on each match day, an average of six players for the squad are missed, since they have to play for their clubs.
“When a team like Wallidan and GPA plays for example, the U-17 will lose more than 10 players for training. This cannot continue if we want to prepare to the level of those teams coming here,'' Johnson said.
He said the only way for the team to train well was to go abroad so that the players would not be distracted by club engagements.