The Gambians were celebrating on Wednesday after the Scorpions’ historic 1-0 victory over Maurtiatnia in their first ever TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations appearance. A win by a lone goal from Ablie Jallow.
Hundreds of kilometers from the main Gambian cities and towns, in Déni Birame Ndaw about fifty kilometers from Dakar (Senegal) where the headquarters of Génération Foot is located, the young people jumped to the ceiling, Balla Djiba, the Senegalese coach who first discovered the Gambian striker, told CAFOnline.com.
” Wednesday was joy as if Senegal had just won,” said the coach, commenting on the cries of joy that crossed the walls of the Senegalese academy from which Jallow emerged.
The Senegalese coach recalls that there was not much debate around Jallow, currently on the books of Belgian Premier League side Seraing.
”He had come to a tournament organized in Diambars and when our technicians came across him, they immediately flashed and the debates began to see how to welcome him,” added Djiba, indicating that the Gambian international ‘ ‘has a Messi profile’.
“Generation Foot had just got their hands on a very good prospect, he had to be pushed to work more, especially on the physical and athletic level”, continued Djiba, the former player whose career was halted by injury in the early 2000s.
“Nobody doubted that he will shine in professional football, and Génération Foot counted a lot on him to win their first league title in 2016-2017”, he added.
At the end of the season, Jallow joined FC Metz (France), the partner club of the Senegalese academy.
“I called on Metz leaders to be patient with him,” recalled President Mady Touré when asked about the reasons that did not allow the young Gambian to assert himself more with the French side.
“I was convinced that he will explode at a very high level,” said the president of Génération Foot, currently present in Cameroon to follow the flagship competition of African football.
“And we are happy to see him as the leader of his team,” added Mady Touré, stressing the objective is to see his academy train the players of the first African national team that will win a senior world cup.
“Africa has the potential to get there, we just lack the sufficient organization and the infrastructure,” he commented, stressing that the academy has always been open to residents from the continent.
Génération Foot had in their ranks the Cameroonian Landry Nguémo, the Malians Mohamed Niaré and Ismaila Simpara, the Burkinabe Moustapha Kaboré and the Beninese Désiré Segbé who all played in AFCON 2019 in Egypt.
Jallow, after being loaned to AC Ajaccio (2019-2020), he has been playing since 2020 at FC Seraing, on loan from Metz.
After this historic moment for The Gambia, CAFOnline caught up with the player in a special interview.
CAFOnline.com: You made history by scoring the very first Gambian goal in AFCON, how did you feel after that winning goal?
Ablie Jallow: I was really happy after scoring that goal. If you noticed, I couldn’t even really savor it, because it was so awesome. We saw images of Gambia, crowds, jubilation, it’s really good for the country.
You played at Génération Foot in Senegal like Sadio Mané, was it a great experience?
It is true that in Gambia where I was trained, we have opportunities. But in Senegal, there are more opportunities, and when you go through Génération Foot, you have the possibility of becoming a professional player. This adventure allowed me to fly to France in Metz, partner club of GF Senegal. I want to keep fighting to win at the top level.
What is your objective in this TotalEnergies AFCON Cameroon 2021?
Our objective is to go as far as possible, first of all we want to get through the group stage. We are going to play match after match, as the coach said. Each victory will be a bonus. We have a group with talented young people who play in the big European clubs who do everything to make us shine. Everyone is concerned by the objective, to raise high The Gambia.
How will you approach the match against Mali?
There will be two good teams on the field of play, the match will not be easy. Our objective was to win the first match, because we knew that against Mali it will not be easy, we will give everything collectively.