Super Nawettan: Heroes of Gunjur beaten but not out
Defending champions Gunjur - lost to Sukuta on penalties in the 2017 Semi-finals replay
Following last night's defeat to fierce rivals, Sukuta in the Semi-final of the 2017 FIBank Super Nawettan, Gunjur players and fans must've felt really disappointed and demoralised this morning. It must be really hard for them to put yesterday's defeat in context, but that's football, it does not always yield the deserved result, luck along with other factors all take their shares in the outcomes. With that in mind, Gunjur can count themselves as unlucky. Probably in over the two legs their performance deserved a more appeasing result. They had chances in both games to swing the pendulum onto their side, but that failure to capitalise when those chances came begging may have cost them, and it will make sense for them to be ruing those missed opportunities right now. For Sukuta, the fact they had to come from behind in the last quarter of the game, showed great intent and drive on their part, considering the robustness of the mean Gunjur defence, whom up to that fateful goal last night, have not conceded a goal this season, in over 500 minutes of play, which in itself is some achievement by any standards. The champions went ahead last night, through the astute Lamin Jallow (Sakho) early in the second half, after a barren first half. Sakho, who came on as a second half substitute, pounced on, after the Sukuta defence failed to clear their line from a cross from the left hand side. The prolific Gunjur striker wasted no time to smash the ball past Ebrima Cham in Sukuta's goal, helped by a deflection from the bodies in front of the keeper. It was a magical moment, and the ecstatic jubilation that ensued was immense and it was an indication of what reaching a second final in as many years would've meant to the travelling fans. The roof of covered the pavilion at the independence stadium must've have been rattling. But again credit to the Dembadu boys, they refused vehemently to concede defeat to their sibling rivals, not for the second time in as many semi-finals. And at that point they had to do simething. They rallied their troops and pushed on as if they no longer had anything to loose, and with the fatigue from the double encounter began to kick in, their pace upfront started to cause problems for the Gunjur defence. And it was not long before they got the reward for their bold defiance under the face of elimination. A great combination play between yusupha and Modou Lamin Sanyang, opened up the Gunjur backline for Cherno Jallow, who poked home the leveller from yards out. All of sudden It's all back to square one, game on, as the Sukutarians got their lost vocal chords back again, which all added to the finally unfolding before our eyes, it seemed nothing can separate this two in over 180 minutes of play. It was evident from then that the God's taken charge and this result will only be decided through divine intervention, and as the FIFA certified referee, Mawdo Jallow blew the final whistle, and time for yet another penalty shootout, some of the bystanders began to wonder who will emerge the winner, as they certainly hoped this one will have an ending, unlike the game on Sunday, where no winner emerged after 90 minutes of play and a marathon penalty shoot-out, which was stopped after 9 kicks each from both sides with the score tied at 8-8. The game was then rescheduled for Wednesday. However unlike Sunday, the Sukuta lads were not prepared to let go of their brothers with the bit between their teeth. Sukuta's Eddy Joof missed a glorious chance to seal victory for the Dembadu team on Sunday when Gunjur's Kang Sedia Touray (Chala), whom by coincidence happens to be based in Sukuta, skied his spot kick over the bar, which presented a score win situation for the Sukutarians, only for Eddie to fail from the ten yard kick.
Sukuta 2017 Super Nawettan Team that defeated last year's champions - Gunjur
This time the Sukutarians were at the their ruthless best as they ensured they capitalised on the misses from Jerreh Bojang and Fabakary touray to seal a 4-2 victory and set up a mouth watering final against the BEM on Saturday 4th November at the Independence stadium. Gunjur will also take on Serekunda East in the early kick-off the same day to battle it out for third place. Last night's defeat was harsh on the Dabadani team, and the Gunjur fans, who have been exceptional in grace, in both triumph and in defeat. And the way they marched toe-to-toe with the team is truly exemplary. Over the two games they converged in their thousands despite the high cost involved in travelling to and from the Independence stadium, which cost nothing short of a D100.00, plus the gate fees ranging between D25.00 and D100.00. This shows true sportsmanship and determination on their part and deserves to be applauded.
Banner of solidarity between the Gunjur and Sukuta fans
And likewise the Sukuta fans who have also been a great sport throughout the tournament and some of their fans did a great job in their calls for peace, as they all pointed to the long established traditions between these two historical towns, the likes of Tala Jobe, who took it upon himself to convey his peace messages on Facebook Live, calling for calm, both in glory and in defeat. At the time of defeat, it's always hard to put things in perspective, but having woken up to a new dawn will help both fans and players to understand in context that this Gunjur team has been "defeated, but not out." They are on a longevity course, and along this journey they've managed to break some of the conceptual barriers that made it absolute for the conventional victors of this tournament to enjoy sustained decades-long duopoly over the direction of the crown. And their emergence along with the likes of Sukuta and BEM, has enthused a new optimism and a drive to dictate the way forward for our nation's football, as it added weight to the call for decentralisation of the game beyond the borders of Banjul and Serekunda and that channel is now surely open for posterity. On a personal note I thank @Gunjur - The Voice of Dabanani for the privilege to tailor down the heroics of this team throughout this community jamboree and I also thank Gunjur fans for making the tournament special..