Futty Danso travels to The Gambia for international friendly
Timbers defender Mamadou Futty Danso last week played his first game for his home country The Gambia in a friendly against Equatorial Guinea. Along with Gabon, Equatorial Guinea are co-hosts of the upcoming African Cup of Nations in 2012. Despite Danso’s national team debut, the Scorpions lost to Equatorial Guinea 1-0 in the capital city Malabo, off the coast of central Africa.
“The coaches and players felt I played a good game, and I felt I played a good game,” Danso said after training with the Timbers in Beaverton last Thursday. He has previously been on the subs bench for Gambia, and has played for them at the youth level.
Conditions were far from easy in the new national stadium. A midday game, the temperature was 105 degrees. The grass pitch was good, but the heat had affected most players by half time.
“After the first half many were either running out of breath or losing control of their breathing, but it wasn’t case with me,” Danso said. “I count myself as one of the leaders, so I cannot show anyone when I am tired.”
Perhaps tougher than the heat were the travel arrangements, which Gambia’s Belgian coach Paul Put complained about to Gambia’s Today newspaper. Of the squad of 21 players, 18 travelled from overseas for the game.
Danso left Portland on a Wednesday morning and arrived at Equatorial Guinea Thursday night Portland time. The team trained Friday, twice on Saturday and Sunday and once on Monday.
The journey was not a logical one taking Danso through New York and Senegal. The Gambian national football federation prefers the foreign players to meet in groups in Madrid along the way.
Still, a cancelled flight on the way home meant Danso had a layover in the Spanish capital. He took the chance to take a tour of Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
“I watch a lot of soccer: English league, MLS, German league, Italian league a lot, Spanish league…,” said Danso. He roots for Juventus and Chelsea.
“When Chelsea play Manchester [United] I watch that live, even if I have to wake up at 4 o’clock [in the morning].”
He also keep tabs on the other Gambians playing in MLS. These include Sanna Nyassi at the Colorado Rapids, Abdoulie Ken Mansally at the New England Revolution, as well as San Jose’s Omar Jasseh and Toronto FC’s Emmanuel Gomez and Amadou Sanyang.
“I try to watch all their games, if not I’ll read the post game comments,” said Danso. “We try to talk to each other on the phone, sometimes on e-mail.”
It was a long way to go for a friendly but Danso believes it was worth it.