> Coach Profile: Togo's Stephen Keshi 

> Profile Of A Football Legend Turned Politician: Liberia's George Weah 

> Can Bafana Bafana Regain Their Form? 

> Gambia's U-17 Success: How It All Happened  

> The Elephants Of Ivory Coast Ready To Climb Mountains 

> CAN 2006 SPECIAL: Is African Football Really In Transition? 

> CAN 2006 SPECIAL: Is African Football Really In Transition? 

> CAN 2006: Wishes You All The Best 

> CAN SPECIAL: Ghana-Nigeria: Who Will Conquer Whom? ***

> Exclusive: 2006 African Nations Cup Preview ***

Other News:

> Weah Leads Liberia's Presidential Poll 

> CAF To Hold 2006 Nations Cup Draw 

> Is African Football On the Up? 

2006 World Cup & African Nations Cup Qualifiers:

> Who Should Be Blamed For The Super Eagles' Failure To Qualify? 

> African WCQ Report: Tunisia Survive Morocco Scare To Reach Finals 

> African WCQ Report: Day Of Upsets As Four Countries To Make Their WC Debut 

> African WCQ Preview: All Eyes On The Final Rounds 

> Don't Believe The Hype! (Just Not Qualified Yet  

> African WCQ Report: Verdicts Postponed To October  

> African World Cup Qualifier Preview: Group A  

> African World Cup Qualifier Preview: Group B 

> African World Cup Qualifier Preview: Group C 

> African World cup Qualifier Preview: Group D 

> African World cup Qualifier Preview: Group E

> International Preview: France - Ivory Coast

> African World Cup Qualifying Analysis - Group A 

> African World Cup Qualifying Analysis - Group B 

> African World Cup Qualifying Analysis - Group C 

> African World Cup Qualifying Analysis - Group D 

> African World Cup Qualifying Analysis - Group E 

African Soccer Events

01/08/04. The finals of the 2008 African Nations Cup will be hosted by Ghana in 2008. This development came about after a poll by the 13-man executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF). The West African Country received nine votes of twelve while Libya won the three other votes. The tournament will be staged in four different venues in the Country, Accra, Kumasi, Sekondi and Tamale. Ghana co-hosted the tournament with Nigeria in 2000.

Africa will have a big taste of one of sports most prestigious tournaments in 2010. South Africa will host the first World Cup finals to be staged on the African continent in 2010. They won the right to host the tournament after a vote by the 24-man FIFA executive thus ending the hopes of another favorite nation Morocco. South Africa won fourteen votes, with ten votes going to Morocco. The Country has already named four men who will spearhead preparations for the tournament, which includes the chairman of the country's bidding committee, Irvin Khoza and Danny Jordaan the chief executive of the bid.

Exclusive Report - Insight Into Gambian Football

By Ibrahim Dabo in Banjul, The Gambia

20/05/04. Football is a very popular sport in the tiny West African Country but in a realistic point of view, the game has failed to excel internationally at senior level. There is always nation-wide support and jubilation whenever the teams perform well but such needed hype and motivation, which often propels the winning spirit of the high, could now be shortcoming. It would now be up to the country's national sides to re-gain the minds of their fans by performing well in any upcoming competition.

Most people have frequently pinned that Gambian football at senior level would always be played at a low state because of series of under performances from the national team. It seemed though, that the senior team, the Scorpions, was prepared to prove their critics wrong as they stepped in to the 2004 African Nations Cup qualifiers with a dramatic opening encounter with Lesotho. On the other hand, it was U-17 national team that made headlines in 2003 by qualifying for a major African competition for the first time.

The national league which kicks off around December has been fairly good and as turnout to some league matches have been low, the Gambia Football Association adopted a new policy during its last annual general meeting, which would allow fans free access to watch league matches. This move was taken in order to gain more support for the most popular sport nation-wide. The first and second division teams consist of ten teams each and the female league kicked off just a couple of years back.

The President's trophy is another tournament, which is aimed at making football more competitive in the country. The first edition of the tournament, which is sponsored the GFA president, commenced in 2001. The tournament brings together the best eight teams in the first division to contest for the trophy.

In a move to decentralize football in the country, the regional league was set up about four years ago comprising of 2nd and 3rd divisions only. This league could help groom local talents in the regional zone and outstanding players would eventually make it to a more competitive level in the country by playing in the national league.

It's however hard to precisely say what has been hindering the top-flight football in the country whenever it comes to playing in international competitions. Most times much of their matches are played in theory instead of a vibrant display on the pitch. Some critics have cited the lack of a foreign coach as a major obstacle to the team. Yet still, the commitment of players, their collectiveness and winning spirit is another criterion that needs to be checked. It's certainly the same when the clubs participate in CAF competitions as they most times face an early exit.

Gambia is one of Africa's smallest and boasts of being one the continent's most peaceful nations. The stability allows the GFA to effectively focus on their grass-root football scheme while youngsters have a unique opportunity to showcase their talent in a conducive atmosphere.

Remarkably, the U-17 national team is the country's first side to have qualified for a major African competition when they made it to the finals of the CAF U-17 Championship in Swaziland in 2003. Even though they did not reach the final, many Gambians may have felt proud of been represented in a major CAF competition for the first time.

It seemed like the Scorpions were set to do bigger things and create more headlines as their preparations for the 2004 African Nations Cup were much talked about. Every Gambian player the GFA could possibly lay hands on playing in Europe [even though not all play at a top level and only a hand-full play there] was welcome to join the team in their quest for qualification. Gambia has never qualified for the African Nations Cup before and played their opening qualifying match with great determination as they went on to thrash Lesotho 6-0 at home, their first ever record win. As jubilation went on nation-wide, both players and fans believed they could make it through to the finals, but they eventually faced stiff opposition from one of their bittiest rivals, Senegal, who was also drawn in the same group. They secured a goalless draw at home to Senegal and lost their away matches to Senegal and Lesotho 3-1 and 1-0 respectively, thus facing exit.The one last hope however, was qualification for the group stages of the 2006 African Nations Cup and World Cup tournaments. They won their preliminary round home match 2-0 to Liberia but it was more frustrating afterwards as they went on to loose 3-0 away in Monrovia. This left many questioning the future of Gambian football as their exit meant that they would have to wait till around 2006 before they participate in any major CAF competitions.

G.F.A under Fire

Following the exit of the national team from these competitions, the Gambia Football Association (GFA) came under increasing fire from the public -the future of Gambian football a cause for concern- and many called for the FA executive to step-down. According to many people, a foreign coach could have brought more inspiration to the team. The GFA disbanded the national team following their last  qualifying campaign exit and fired the coaching staff after which a technical committee was formed to look into the poor showing of the national team.

The GFA also organized its first ever [two-day] football Bantaba (forum), which involved all the stakeholders in Gambian football. This move was geared towards bringing much transparency in the game and to look into possible ways forward for football in the country. All relevant matters affecting the Country's football were deliberated on as all the stakeholders came together and made vital contributions for the good of the game in the Country. The GFA however defended their ongoing efforts in trying to elevate Gambia's football to the highest level and pledged to continue working in the interest of the development on the game.Gambia to Host U-17 Finals

The qualification of the U-17 National team for the finals of the 2003 CAF competition would have possibly helped pave the way for country's successful bid to host the 2005 CAF U-17 finals. Gambia will host the important African football competition next year and even though the African Football ruling body CAF is yet to fix a precise date for the tournament's kickoff, CAF President Issa Hayatou, during a short visit to the country last December, promised to work hand-in-hand with the country's sporting authorities to ensure that the finals would be a success.

Gambia has started on a positive note towards preparations for this tournament by reportedly hiring Ghanaian born coach Fred Osam Dodou as head coach for the U-17 national team. He is expected in the Country in June and the GFA reportedly signed a one-year contract with him. 

Insight Into Sierra Leone Football
Exclusive Report By Ibrahim S. Dabo In Freetown, Sierra Leone

24/03/04. Football lovers in Sierra Leone are a bit relieved now since soccer in the country is undergoing a transition period after a long deadlock between  stakeholders and the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA), in relation to improving the game to international standard.

Football is the most dominant sport in the country; it plays an integral part in the lives of the population, which is about 5 million. It has been very disappointing in recent years, as the standard of the local game has fallen abruptly due to poor administration.

The senior national team has failed to participate in major competitions as expected of them in recent years while the National League has not been competitive due to administrative problems at the top.

The country has a lot of talented footballers that can bring laurels if only they are properly managed and supported. The last time the senior national team, Leone Stars, qualified for a major international competition was in 1996 for the African Nations Cup in South Africa. Since then their participation in the African Nations Cup as well as World Cup qualifiers has been disappointing though.

The hoodoo of this standard is the lack of competitive football and participation in the national leagues. League football has been halted for about eight months now due to an impasse between the football stakeholders and the FA executive led by Justice Tolla Thompson. The Stakeholders have been calling for a change as they had already passed a "vote of no confidence" on FA executive.

The failure of clubs to participate in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) competitions for the past seven years has also hindered the progress of football greatly. This has undoubtedly prevented youngsters that have great ambitions in their football career to expose themselves internationally. Ports Authority Football Club was the last to participate in a CAF competition in 1996 when they reached the quarterfinals of the CAF Cup [now Confederation Cup].

The only recent success has been the U-17 national side that made a remarkable achievement by reaching the final of the African U-17 tournament for the first time in 2003 and played in the World U-17 championship in Finland early this year, but eventually had to face an early exit.

Understandably enough, the progress of the game in the small West African state has also been affected by a decade of long rebel war especially between 1997-1999 when the rebels invaded the capital city Freetown. This affected the country's participation in international competitions while the national league had to be suspended for some time.

However, the country is now peaceful and there is relative stability. It is expected that football can now be played in a pleasant atmosphere, and the teams can once more bring joy to the hearts of all the people.

Maladministration In SLFA
The ousted Football Association executive led by [now] supreme Court judge, Justice Tolla Thompson, has been widely blamed for the current poor status of football in the country.

The FA had come under heavy criticism from various quarters for the poor state game in the country; many called for the dissolution of the executive as they questioned whether an FA really exists - especially at a time when league football has been at a standstill for over seven months.

The FA's decision to postpone its last annual congress which is held every August is one of the reasons which prompted clubs to boycott the restarting of the league. According to reports, the FA again failed to honour its decision to hold the 2003 congress early in 2004, thus adding to the crisis.

For the past eight months, football stakeholders have been at loggerheads with the FA executive, poor administration been a major cause.

There had been allegations that the FA had three conflicting constitutions which prompted stakeholders to seek a high court ruling last month to clarify the matter. However, reports now reveal that football's world governing body Fifa has intervened in the matter which would see a constitutional ammendment that would be in line with the body's [fifa] statutes.

Several efforts to resolve the impasse had been in vain including the late intervention of the Sports Minister Dr Dennis Bright - who stressed on the need for the matter to be resolved before the country participate in any international competition. This came at a time when the national U-20 youth team should have been preparing for their preliminary round 1st leg CAF qualifiers against Gambia in Freetown early in April.

The matter reached its zenith when the President of the Republic, Alhaji Ahmed Tejan Kabbah intervened and called up an emergency meeting at his presidential lodge around mid March, which involved the SLFA executive and stakeholders who have voting rights in congress in a move to finally resolve the matter.

During the meeting, the court action involving stakeholders was agreed to be dropped and a seven man interim committe was formed to superintend the affairs of the FA till the much anticipated congress is conveyed.

Following this development, clubs have now given the green light to their players to participate in the preparations for the African U-20 qualifier against Gambia on April 3rd.

Members of the interim body are: two representatives of the dissolved FA, two from the Western Area Football Association (WAFA), two from the Provincial Union of Clubs Association (PUCA) and one from the Sports Ministry.

According to reports, Fifa has requested information from the ousted FA president Justice Tolla Thompson on issues which led to the current crisis in Sierra Leone football. Justice Thompson has however dispelled media reports claiming that President Kabbah dissolved the FA.

>> More Football News

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Ibrahim Dabo & President of the Cofederation of African Football (CAF) Issa Hayatou