Gunjur vs Sukuta: The battle of the titans heads to another pulse-setting semi-final replay
Photo credit: Bakary B Baldeh (Gunjur vs Sukuta
The epic Super Nawettan semi-final game between the cousin towns of Gunjur and Sukuta came to a bizarre ending, with the inconclusive game now heading to another nerve racking encounter on Wednesday 1st November. Last night's game between the two sides was abruptly ended after an epic penalty shootout, which saw 18 kicks taken from both sides (9 each), and the game tied at 8 goals each. But strangely the Central Referee decided to end the game, which is now set for a replay. Before that fateful final whistle to ultimately end the game, an eerie silence descended at the Independence Stadium, with both fans left to wonder. And in a freakish way the game was ended with no winner. The central Referee, who was communicating with the tournament's officials, was advised to pull the plug on the game, leaving the disgruntled fans from both sides a wee bit higgledy-piggledy. With those following on social media frantically sending messages, enquiring about the scores, the winner and what happened. Some even speculated that the Sukuta goalkeeper collapsed, and was believed to be from voodoo or as locally called 'Sitikongno'. It was in the end what Big Faa will call an 'anything! anything! and nothing situation.' The game itself was never going to be a dull affair, as it was billed to be the game of Zonal 2017, and it did not disappoint on that front, as both teams battled hard for a place in the popular competition's final in a week's time. And the crowd the game pulled to the Independence stadium in Bakau, which was almost three-third full, was another indication of the fixture's billing. It had drawn people from all walks of life, and the atmosphere as expected was at fever pitch. Gunjur were the better side overall, and started the game on the front foot to set the tone for their triumphant fans, as they went on to dominate the opening exchanges with some sleek passing football, knitting some clever passes here and there as they probed and prodded around the Sukuta half, a style of play that is becoming a trade mark for the Dabanani team and what has endeared them to many neutral fans. Sukuta by contrast took a more conservative approach to the game, by staying compact at the back, and relied on the pace up front in their team, which has worked for them defensively, as they stayed solid, but has also seriously limited their attacking capabilities. They had chances but were very sparse. Alhagi Bojang was their main threat, whose experience, having played in the Senegalese top division, and his pace at times caused trouble for defenders. In fact on one occasion his pace drew a much needed tackle from Gunjur's towering centre-back dubbed Mountain, Lamin Bojang, who took one for his team, as he was shown a yellow card by the central Referee for the devious tackle, without which Alhagi would've been through on goal with a chance. But despite having the lion's share of the ball possession, Gunjur could not make their dominance count, with both Mbemba Fatty, who should've scored with a tap-in mid way through the first half, but miscued his shot off target and Malang Jassey should've put the champions ahead. Jassey's chance came after been clevelrly put through by the all-action man dubbed Del Piero, otherwise Yusupha Janneh, on Sukuta's goal, but he was not composed enough to beat Ebrima Cham in goal. Both teams returned from the half time break with more ambition and vigour, but did very little to end the deadlock, Gunjur again had the better of the chances despite Alhagi forcing Yunus Jatta in Gunjur's goal into action, who did well to keep his clean-sheet record in tact as he is yet to concede in open play. He had a less than impressive season in the Nawettans but as described by the Gunjur Janneh Koto radio commentators, he is the man for the big occasions and he along with his resolute back four have really stepped up to the plate in this tournament. Lamin Jallow also drew a fantastic finger tip save from Cham in the 70th minute, which ricocheted off the woodwork to leave the cheering Gunjur fans open-mouthed. It was a well connected drive from yards out, and the ferocity of the shot left Cham needing some treatment. By his high standards from last season, Jallow or Sakho as affectionately called, is having a relatively quiet tournament, as he lurked in the shadows of Mbemba Iniesta Fatty, Del Piero and Malang Jassey. But despite this, moments like that shows why he is so highly regarded in this Gunjur team.