Omar Colley returns to boost The Gambia's Afcon bid

By Momodou BahFootball Writer, The Gambia
Omar Colley in action for Sampdoria against Mario Mandzukic of Juventus
Omar Colley has played against Italian giants Juventus, Napoli and Roma this season after joined Sampdoria in July 2018

Former captain Omar Colley has been recalled to The Gambia squad for their crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Algeria on 22 March.

The 26-year-old has not been selected for the last two qualifiers after pulling out of the squad to face Algeria in September's reverse fixture due to family reasons.

At the time, Colley, who was skipper under previous coach Sang Ndong, said he was being 'punished' for missing the Algeria game.

The Sampdoria defender has made 13 Serie A appearances following his move from Belgian side Genk last July.

The Scorpions are bottom of Group D, tied with Togo on five points, although the Sparrow Hawks have a better head-to-head record.

Group D after five matches:
Algeria10 points (qualified)
Benin7 points
Togo5 points
The Gambia5 point

They must win in Blida, a venue where Algeria are unbeaten in 33 matches, and hope for a draw between Benin and Togo to reach their maiden Cup of Nations finals.

"This is the first time in the history of Gambian football that the senior national team can qualify going into the last game," coach Tom Saintfiet told the country's media while unveiling his squad.

Left-back Ibou Touray returns after a three-year absence after impressing with English non-league club Salford City, which is owned by a group of former Manchester United players including David Beckham, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.

Bubacarr Trawally, of Saudi giants Al Shabab, and Reading's Modou Barrow have been overlooked by Saintfiet while Ali Sowe and Sulayman Marreh turned down the Belgian's invitation.

Experienced duo Pa Modou Jagne and Mustapha Carayol are injured while forwards Assan Ceesay and Lamin Jallow, who has scored three of the Scorpions' five goals in qualifying, are suspended.

Qualification from Group D could be further complicated after The Gambia Football Federation (Gff) appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) over the eligibility of Togo defender Adewale Olufade, who played in the game between the two countries in October.

If the appeal is successful, Confederation of African Football rules state that Togo will be disqualified and their results annulled, something that could have a big impact on who goes on to play in this year's tournament in Egypt.

The Gambia squad:

Goalkeepers: Modou Jobe (El Kanemi Warriors, Nigeria), Baboucarr Gaye (Arminia Bielefeld, Germany)

Defenders: Bubacarr Sanneh (Anderlecht, Belgium), Omar Colley (Sampdoria, Italy), Mamadou 'Futty' Danso (unattached), Mohammed Jallow Mbye (Mjallby AIF, Sweden), Ibou Touray (Salford City, England), Ngine Faye Njie (Gamtel FC), Simon Richter and Dawda Ngum (BK Bronshoj, Denmark)

Midfielders: Kalifa Manneh (Calcio Catania, Italy), Ebrima 'Ebou' Adams (Ebbsfleet United, England), Ebrima Sohna (unattached), Ebrima Colley (Atalanta, Italy)

Forwards: Nuha Marong (CD Atletico Baleares, Spain), Ablie Jallow (Metz, France), Musa Barrow (Atalanta, Italy), Bubacarr Jobe (Mjallby AIF, Sweden), Adama Jammeh (Etoile Sportive du Sahel, Tunisia), Muhammed Badamosi (FUS de Rabat, Morocco)

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