Gambia coach Tom Saintfiet welcomes the resumption of the Total Africa Cup of Nations Cameroon 2021 qualifiers to be hosted in November.
Match days 3 and 4 of the qualifiers, originally scheduled for March 2020, have been postponed due to the global Coronavirus pandemic that has halted many sporting activities around the world.
Scorpions would play Gabon in a double header in March before the pandemic was forced to postpone the qualifying campaign, but the Belgian could not hide his excitement with the confirmation of the resumption date.
“I’m happy as a child to receive his birthday present,” Saintfiet told CAFOnline. “It was a long period; it was in November last year that we had our last matches. We really prepared everything for March and COVID-19 came.
“It was a time of great uncertainty, and getting the news that there will be qualifiers in November was fantastic news. We look forward to it.”
The Gambia had hoped to build on their good start to the 2021 Total AFCON qualifying campaign, only for the pandemic to stop their run, but Saintfiet is setting his sights on the future.
“We prepared while we had to take care of the COVID-19 security of players and staff. How to travel, and so on, but we at least started the work and of course look forward to November’s matches against Gabon, which is very special can be Gambians to everyone, so I’m a very happy man. ‘
The Scorpions are at the top of their Total Africa Cup of Nations Cameroon 2021 Group D with four points equal to November’s opponents Gabon, two more than DR Congo, while Angola is rooted at the bottom with zero points.
The COVID-19 situation around the world is a major concern for Saintfiet ahead of November’s return to competitive action.
“It’s not easy because we will have players who come from three different continents. The majority play in Europe, we have players in Asia and few players on the African continent. So it will be very complicated to get everyone together. .
“Let’s hope that the peaks are over, and that everything goes downhill, the health situation becomes almost normal again, otherwise it will be very negative if teams can not use their main players to play the matches.”
Missing star man
When the Scorpions tackle Gabon, Saintfiet will be without midfielder Hamza Barry due to the knee injury.
The 25-year-old playmaker, who is currently a free agent following the expiration of his contract with Hajduk Split, Croatia, underwent cruciate ligament surgery in July and will be out for at least six months.
“The biggest problem for now is Hamza Barry. His cruciate ligament injury will take at least six months to recover. He underwent surgery in July, so he may return in February or March. It is very sad because against Angola and DR Congo he has proves how important he is in the midfield role.
“On the other hand in the previous year we had a number of other players who could perform in the position and this is an opportunity for others, but is obviously sad that Hamza is not there, so we have to find solutions,” concluded Saintfiet.