Gambia coach Abdoulie Bojang says the TotalEnergies U-20 Africa Cup of Nations final against neighbors Senegal is the most important game of his life.
The former Scorpions midfielder was speaking ahead of his team’s first ever TotalEnergies U-20 AFCON final at the Cairo International Stadium on Saturday.
The match has been dubbed back home as the Senegambia derby and Bojang who himself knows the rivalry very well expects a thrilling contest.
“We’re very much focused, which is the most important thing and this is the most important game in my life because we took it game by game and now we’re into the final,” Bojang said at his pre-match press conference.
“It will be an interesting game, a derby game but the most important is to make sure that we concentrate fully during the course of the game.
“We want to put up a respectable performance and at the end of the day we want to win the game.
“As I said earlier it’s going to be an interesting game so we shouldn’t be overconfident.”
The Gambia booked a historic ticket to the final following a hard fought 1-0 victory over record champions of the TotalEnergies U-20 AFCON Nigeria.
Talisman Adama Bojang scored the lone goal to secure the Young Scorpions a place in Saturday’s final against their arch rivals.
“We try to tell them exactly the strategies they would do to try to win the game,” said Bojang.
“We’re in close contact with the players telling exactly what we need to do and we need not to do so as to be able to concentrate more on the game and do what best we can do to win the game.”
Senegal powered into the final with a convincing 3-0 thrashing of Tunisia in the semi-finals at the Suez Canal Authority Stadium in Ismailia.
Leading scorer of the tournament Pape Demba Diop scored the opener before Lamine Camara registered a brace against the Young Carthage Eagles.
“We have a similar record but all we’ve been working on is to try to stop where the service is coming from,” the former Steve Biko coach revealed.
“If they didn’t have service then they wouldn’t be able to be clinical so we’re working very hard to make sure that we stop where the service is coming from then we will have less threats.
“Looking at our team our defense is very solid playing the whole tournament without conceding it won’t be easy for them equally. If we win the ball we try to hit them on the counter attack.”
The Gambia have a decent record in the TotalEnergies U-20 Africa Cup of Nations with two bronze medals in their three previous participations.
The West Africans can go a step better by claiming their maiden triumph in this category following their past successes in the TotalEnergies U-17 AFCON.
“This is a very important game as a first timer in the TotalEnergies U-20 AFCON the first achievement was we won silver in the zonal qualifiers. Coming into the continental championship winning it would be something we would be proud of,” said Bojang.
“The preparations have been concluded and now we’re focusing on the game and we want to do everything humanly possible to win the game and we want to set our own record which is very important.”
Fans back home will be glued to their television sets to watch their history making Young Scorpions against the impressive Teranga Cubs.
“We knew from the onset that the whole country was behind the team,” Bojang said with a smile on his face.
“That is why we want to show so much respect to the game because it’s a very important game.
“We have to bring smiles to the faces of all the Gambians so it’s a very important game and let them continue to rally behind the team and we will do everything possible to make them happy.”
Bojang will be without his battling midfielder Haruna Rasid Njie following his sending off against Nigeria in the semi-finals.
“Haruna is an important player in the team but personally for me I believe we have a good team,” the confident Bojang said.
“We have a good set of players. Looking at our third game we made ten changes and those who came in put up a respectable performance.
“That’s the most important thing. We work collectively as a team and we don’t want to rely on individuals because this is what I was trying to avoid because if the individual is missing then you have a problem.
“Every player has been prepared before we come to the tournament.
“They knew exactly the system we play and how we play it so replacing him wouldn’t be a problem which we worked on and the player is working very hard and we have trust and confidence in him,” he concluded.