Gunjur vs Sukuta: The clash of the cousins at the contest of skills
Sukuta Demba Du Zonal Team
Gunjur's progress in their Super Nawettan title defence now hinges on the game between them and one of their fiercest rival's from Northern Kombo, Sukuta Dembadu. A rivalry that goes a bit deeper than football, and thus this game will be no ordinary football match, and already the rival camps are engaged in the repartees and banters familiar in the meetings between the natives of these two traditional towns, who share a lot in common, both historically and in tradition, dating back in time to the Soninke-marabout wars in the late 19th century. This was a time when the region of Kombo was dominated by Non-Muslim dwellers (Soninkes), and Gunjur and Sukuta were the few Muslim settlements in the area. A religious communion that will further strengthen the ties between these two communities for posterity, when the two joined forces, backed by the grand scholar of Gunjur Konoto Kabilo, Ebrahim Foday Kombo Sillah Touray as he declared war on the autocratic Soninke rulers in the region. This solidarity from the people of Sukuta will be the genesis of this special bond, which can be jovial, but mostly a very cordial relationship that continues to exist between these two communities. It is a special rapport characterised by good humour, social and common traditional values like in all joking relations that exist between people of certain regions, towns, tribes or families in the Senegambia region, where, as beautifully described by the Linguist, Ebou Momar Taal, who wrote on the 'Senegambian ethnic groups and their common origins.' "People in Joking relationships (Kal or Sanawya) are at liberty to say or do anything against one another anywhere however outrageously strange or distasteful, without any risk of provoking anger, revenge or punishment." You'll understand this when you find yourself in the midst of people from Sukuta and Gunjur, Nuimi and Jarra or Kiang and Badibu, at times their railleries can be pretty awkward for the neutral, but largely those concerned do know the limits. However, Taal further elaborated on the binding and guiding principles of thesee jokes. "The relationship has strict arid clear rules of inviolability, mutual assistance and protection at all times and under all circumstances including an alliance against external adversaries while prohibiting acts of violence, and deception among people linked by this relationship who are obliged to make concessions to one another." Now this is a juncture where both set of fans from these two communities, Gunjur and Sukuta must bear in mind as they enter this highly charged territory of football fever and it's competitive tendencies, which can at times quickly descend into animosity and hostilities. The crave for sporting glory can be blinding, and thus these two people must remember, like their ancestors, history will be the judge of their conduct and grace in this encounter.
Defending Chanpions - Gunjur
Of which, as champions, Gunjur are billed as the fair favourites. An opinion backed by the recent form and the stats for both teams. However, the head-to-head record between the two in recent times shows just fractional margins, although Gunjur had won most of the dwells between 2005 to date including last year's semi-final, which was decided in a penalty shootout after the game finished 1-1 in normal time and Gunjur won 4-2 in the shootout. Sukuta were 1-0 winners when the two locked horns in the group stages last term. Having said these, football is a game that is not always decided by stats, but moments, those opportune moments that can propel a team to victory. You got to take them.
Gunjur Team celebrates beating Kombo East! Video courtesy of Muncharreh Jibba
And with that said, this game like the ones before, will be a highly contested spectacle, on and off the pitch. With the added motivation of taking ownership of not just the accolade at stake but surely the bragging rights. And without doubt the fans of these two teams have been a breath of fresh air in this tournament, with the colourful celebrations and the traditional Mandinka drummings and dances, which all adds to this football extravaganza, and it will be no less a contest if we were to have the ALANGKOKA singing group from Gunjur and OTITTA of Sukuta to battle it out off the pitch.