The Gambia U20 Young Scorpions have succumbed to a 1-nil defeat at the hands of South American outfits Uruguay in the round of 16 of the Under 20 World Cup in Argentina, bringing a cruel end to their World Cup campaign.
U20 WC: Scorpions run out of venom to sting, what next for its stars now?
The Young Scorpions, among the underdogs coming into the competition, cruised through the group stage following victories over Honduras and bookies’ favourite France, before capping off the group with a 0-0 draw against South Korea, but came up short against a well-organised Uruguay who secured a quarter-final place through a left-footed outside-of-the-box stunner from Anderson Duarte.
Despite the loss, and the disappointment that comes with it, coach Abdoulie Bojang and his charges must not sulk too much. By the yardstick with which Gambian football is measured, it has been a generally successful year for the U20s, with a runners-up medal in the U20 African Cup of Nations where they played one of the most thrilling attacking football in the entire tournament — to qualifying for the World Cup and topping a group including France and breaking and setting some national records on the way — these young set of players deserves praise and support.
Backed up by the recent performances of both the senior and U20 sides in the AFCON competition, Gambian football — with evidently talent galore — has been on the right track for at least two years now. In the 2021 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, which was actually held in 2022 and hosted by Cameroon, Gambia debuted as the lowest-ranked team of the tournament as well as the lowest-ranked team to participate in the tournament, but the team defied the odds and reach the quarterfinals where they were knocked out by host Cameroon.
However, despite the huge strides the country has made in football over the past two years, there are still glaring issues holding back Gambian football, with top football talents sinking into the quicksand of this mess without even ever realising their dreams. Gambian football’s weak and inept leadership, coupled with the lack of serious investment into grassroots football to senior-level football, has been at the forefront of the country’s shortcomings and lack of success in professional football. Can this change? Yes. Will it change? Hopefully.
Back to the U20s, who have been making sports news headlines since their impressive run in the U20 AFCON earlier this year with a couple of talents garnering attention from top European clubs, what next? This squad is littered with talent, and with European scouts hovering, what does the future hold for this crop of talented players? How many of them will make the leap from the U20 to the senior side? How many of them will turn out to be a success story 5 years from now? A handful? More, or even less? TIME WILL TELL.
Credited to: FatouNetwork