By Uthman A N Jeng
In a thrilling and heart-stopping final, Jaliba FC emerged victorious in the prestigious Africell Champions tournament Friday. The tournament captivated football fans with its daily dose of thrilling encounters as champions of the country’s biggest nawettan zones clash.
The final match played at the Bakau mini stadium left spectators on the edge of their seats as the two football giants, Jaliba FC and Jeshwang City Boys ,battled fiercely for the coveted title.
Despite Jeshwang city boys’ overwhelming dominance in both defense, midfield and a splendid attacking prowess, luck proved to be elusive in the critical moments of the match when their dominance faltered in the face of Jaliba FC’s goalkeeper’s heroic display in the shootouts that ensured after a spirited goalless draw.
In the penalty shootout, Jaliba FC’s goalkeeper N’fansu Manneh (The Wall) put his consummating skills to task, demonstrating his unwavering composure and unparalleled reflexes. Manneh made a mesmerising save of the decisive shot to deny Kemo Gomez and Jeshwang City the opportunity to clinch victory.
The stadium erupted in thunderous applause as Jaliba FC’s players celebrated around their star goalkeeper, acknowledging the pivotal role he played in securing their triumph.
The tournament not only produce an exciting final but a gallery of upcoming talents from various teams. From Jaliba FC is the young prodigy Muhammad Fayenkeh, who is touted as the next big sensation in Gambian football. His team mates Abdou Karim Sanneh and Domingo Manneh exhibited exceptional dribbling skills and an innate ability to fine the back of the net.
Their goal-scoring prowess was a driving force behind the team’s successful journey to the final.
On the other hand, Jeshwang City Boys had their own gems in resolute center-back Kemo Gomez, midfield maestro Sheriff Ceesay who pulled the strings with intelligent passes. There was also the magician Bubacarr Gumaneh whose explosive runs and ingenious set-pieces mesmerised the audience. Clinical finisher Samba Njie completes the ensemble from Jeshwang with his ability to find the back of the net when it matters most. Despite their loss, Jeshwang City boys were the darlings of the tournament with many spectators voting them as the most talented side.
The finals will forever be remembered as a testament to the unpredictable nature of football where a match can be dominated, yet the outcome goes another way, often in one flash of brilliance.
Jaliba FC’s victory was exactly like that. The Brikama team trooped out of Bakau in a convoy of cars with tooting horns and loud singing right through the streets of Brikama, symbolising the power of resilience and teamwork.
The Africell sponsored champion tournament had been a rollercoaster of emotions, and in the end, Jaliba FC stood tall, etching their name in Gambian football history as the worthy champions of the first Africell champions’ tournament.