Gambia's "Pure Joy" that never was
(From Caesar Abagali, GNA Special Correspondent, Lima, Peru) Courtesy: PureJoy Fruit Juice
Lima, September 24, GNA - September 23 would remain a bitter memory day for the Gambians in the history of football when the 300 supporters brought down from The West African country as they could not believe their ears that their team had been kicked out of Peru 2005 FIFA World Under 17 Youth tournament.
The Gambians won the admiration of all with the popularity with which they won all their first two matches against Brazil and Qatar. They needed to score just a goal in their last match against Holland to qualify to the quarter-finals but suffered a 2-0 defeat, which spelt their doom.
All three teams, Brazil, Netherlands and Gambia had six points each from three matches played but Gambia could not progress further due to superior goal aggregate by Brazil and the Netherlands. Brazil had six points plus five goals, Holland six points plus three goals and Gambia six points plus two goals while Qatar had no point with 10 goals against.
Some Peruvian dailies still carry pictures of Gambia and their supporters in their last match and their arrival in Lima Airport from Piura where they feigned emergency landing to enable them watch their match against Qatar last Tuesday.
Other papers tried to locate Gambia on the Africa map since some of they had never heard of the name Gambia before. Before the surprise news that the team had also been eliminated from the competition, news had spread in Lima town and many people were invited to a "Pure Joy" party to celebrate their qualification into the quarter final.
That was however really a "Pure Joy" party that never was since the news naturally prevented everybody including the Gambians from celebrating.
Brazil on the other hand beat Holland 2-1, Qatar 6-0 and lost to 3-1 to Gambia while the Netherlands lost 2-1 to Brazil beat Qatar 5-3 and Gambia 2-0 and had therefore qualified alongside Brazil for the quarter finals.
Meanwhile, the chartered plane that brought the 300 Gambian fans to watch their matches is still parked at the Lima Airport and is attracting 1,000 US dollars an hour.
They are also to pay a fine of an unspecified amount for feigning emergency landing at the Piura International Airport. The Starlets are still not certain about their departure date back home sinc e it was becoming difficult to secure flights for their return trip.
They were supposed to return after the games but the airline agent is working hard around the clock for their return. 24 Sept 05