The Gambia national Under -17 team return home yesterday after six weeks overseas training in Egypt and Senegal. While in Senegal team coach Fred Osam Duodu talked to news men about the trip and his line of action in the count down to the May 7 kick off. Read on;
Coach what are your experiences like?
Normally in training camp, we deal more with trial matches, tactical behaviour, steady positions and other minor things. In Egypt, we sent our program prior to our arrival and with the direct involvement of Caf, everything was timely arranged for us.
And it would interest you to know that a lot of their international clubs wanted to play us. We played trial matches and the boys have learnt a lot, and did very well. We never played our equals, only U-20, U23 clubs and the second national team. All these gave us the experience we needed in Egypt. We came to Dakar. The idea was the FA had to arrange our stay and everything, but it seem it has been quite different from Egypt. The Senegalese were prepared to help us, but its difficult because you arrange for matches and finally you learnt that there are no venues. We played only one test match at the stadium in Dakar here. On the whole the camping has been very fruitful. We've been very happy, the boys are happy, the technical team are also happy.
What were some of the challenges you meet in Egypt. ?
We specifically asked for teams that are above us. We played their U-20 that qualified for the U-20 championship in Holland and defeated them. The victory came when we were a man down. The officiating was very poor but in all cases the boys were learning. We spoke to the boys about the disciplinary and how to control themselves when referees are in favour of other clubs. We also learnt that the Arabs play very fast football. We also had to adopt a tactical behaviour. They were very surprised to see us play pressure football and that really disorganised them. I am very happy the way the boys behaved on the field. I will not be surprised if they get more goals in the tournament because they are always prepared for that.
Lets talk about the awareness level of the footballers, how have you work on enlightening the players about the rules of the game?
We've worked on that very well. There are certain mistakes players do, when planning as a technical man, you have to take it. For instance, our first red card came when the ball was entering in our post and our player hit it with his hand. We've discussed that too. Our second red card was as a result of second bookable offense, which is normal. We didn't encounter any dangerous play that would put the team in the other side of the coin. We've done our home work.
Looking at the graphical outline of your games, you won more matches than you lost. What games have tasked you more and which when arise in the tournament, can help you turn back?
To be frank with you we played test matches and we don't look at one side. There are so many faces in a game. Faces in the sense that you have set pieces, tactical behaviour, defensive behaviour, offensive behaviour and all these things come together in a tournament. There was a team we had that played athletic football, I told the boys to play possessive games. I guess the boys are better prepared psychologically. Even at recess, they discuss amongst themselves about their game and it is very important we move to camp.
Will the training camp continue in Banjul?
My programme is that when we return we play one big test match, but programs change and it's likely I will change the program thinking about so many things like injuries, population attitude.