The Gambia turned despair to glory in a dramatic international football night which started with a scintillating story of Premier league super star Pierre Emerick Aubameyang tweeting his one-sided story of how he spent the night at Banjul airport, unwelcome.
Spreading photos of themselves lying on the floor at the airport Aubameyang’s fellow Gabonese players also made a meal of their self-inflicted detention at the airport when they refused to show Covid-19 traveling certificates or allowed their samples taken for testing.
Apparently, the Gabonese team played its cards very well. Not intending to subject themselves to a Gambian test, (despite their authorities insisted testing Gambian players in Libreville) they sneaked into town dead in the night clutching unverified Covid -19 test results brought from Gabon, hoping that with less than 24 hours to kick-off, all efforts to test them would be frustrated. But more importantly, they capitalised on the Gambia’s national Covid-19 arrival rules which exempted arriving passengers with less then 72hours old negative results from quarantine or further tests.
The Gambian football authorities were keen to have the visitors tested but a subsequent technical meeting presided over by Caf relied on Gambia’s 72 hours arrival rules and freed the Gabonese from testing.
So, Gabon survived and managed to dribble past the airport protocols thanking their stars for escaping what ever scrutiny they are hiding. That was off the pitch dribbling of course.
However, by the end of the 90 minutes on the on the pitch, the headlines across the world changed with many wires bamboozled by tiny Gambia’s revenged damage to the star-studded Gabon side. Gabon surrendered the top of the table in the most regrettable fashion, when a howler from their goalkeeper Anthony Mfa Mezui gave the Gambia the first goal in a silver platter with scrupulous Modou Barrow capitalising in the nick of time to punish the visitors in the 49th minute. If that was a fluke, Musa Barrow’s second goal was an affidavit of the home side’s supremacy. And so, Gabon’s 89th minute consolation went largely unnoticed and not enough to spoil a rare night of joy for Gambian football. The Scorpions retreated after a satisfactory outing to wait another round of qualifiers needing just another win to definitely secure a place in the finals, whatever happens between DR Congo and Angola tonight in Luanda.