Drama in Gambia as Sierra Leone face U17 World Cup ouster with no-show

John Mendy

GAMBIA, October 27, 2017 – The Gambia Football Federation (GFF) has rejected Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) request, for their FIFA Women’s U-17 World Cup qualifying match in Banjul to be delayed for 24 hours.

The SLFA said they had written to the GFF on Wednesday afternoon, requesting the delay of the return leg but the GFF refused to oblige.

Esther Marie Samura, Media Officer of the Sierra Leonean team, gave a detailed breakdown of events.

“Initially, it was Monday that was requested but when they denied us, we had no option than send another email for it to be shifted to Sunday,” she said.

With goals from Catherine Jatta, Aminata Camara and Ola Bowaro, Sierra Leone headed into this fixture with a 3-0 deficit from the first leg away at Freetown, and was scheduled to land in Banjul on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 25,  ahead of the second leg on Saturday, October 28, but failed to do so.

The GFA have now confirmed they insisted in a response sent to the SLFA, that the match take place on Saturday, as scheduled, due to irreversible preparation already on ground despite the poor timing of the request.

However, Esther Marie argues that the Gambia FA should have understood their challenges.

“We would have been in Banjul since Tuesday but there was a transition at our FA the same day so all of our tickets were cancelled and the trip was rescheduled for Saturday, October 28.”

The SLFA has been embroiled in a political saga as it was reported on Tuesday, that the President of the SLFA Isha Johansen, as well as the Secretary General Christopher Kamara, have been sacked with immediate effect by the executive committee of the SLFA, as both have been indicted by the Sierra Leone Anti Corruption Commission on grounds of corruption.

Mazola Kamara, who is SLFA First Vice President and a former Sierra Leone international, has been given charge on an interim basis and is expected to steer the ship in accordance with the SLFA statutes.

“The only option we had was to board Air Maroc on the morning of Friday, the 27th” continued Marie, ”but the airline said there is no space to board 27 (Sierra Leone contingent).”

“Even when Madam Isha Johansen directly called the Gambia FA President, she pleaded for the game (to be moved) on Sunday but the President was very reluctant.

“The only option now is to back out,” she concluded.

The Gambian U-17 team is reportedly scheduled to take on Gambia’s Senior Women’s National team at the Independence Stadium in Bakua at 4pm (local time), in a test game replacing the world cup qualifying fixture.

Gambia is set to take on Ghana’s Black Maidens in the second round between December 1-3 and December 15-17, 2017.

Photo Credit: AWOKO

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