NYC GAMBIA WIN COPA CHAMPIONSHIP
By Ben Tetelman
This evening at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium, NYC Gambia claimed their first ever Cosmos Copa championship after defeating NYC France 2-0. In just its second year participating in the tournament, Gambia is now the only African nation to hoist the coveted Cosmos Copa trophy.
“This means a lot to all of us. We are not only playing for the Gambians here today, but for the entire community," said NYC Gambia head coach Ansumana Gaye in a post-game interview. "I cannot wait to tell family and friends back home the exciting news.”
NYC Gambia began the match a little flat-footed, while NYC France were more active in the attacking third. Golden boot winner Farid Benramdane created a number of opportunities for NYC France, but the defending Copa champions could not find the back of the net.
“We lacked a bit at the front," said NYC France president Fredrick Lesort, "but it was important that we stayed aggressive and challenged balls in the midfield.”
The scoreless deadlock was broken a half-hour into the first 45 after Aboubacari Sissoho rocketed a shot off the post and in for NYC Gambia. The goal gave the Gambians momentum, and they came out flying in the second half.
After the match, Gaye said that he told his side at halftime, “To keep focus and make sure not to concede within the first 10 minutes.”
NYC Gambia defended a dangerous French attack extremely well behind their center back Emmanuel Gomez, who was the difference for the West Africans.
Long diagonal passes were played consistently by NYC France, but their speedy players on the flanks were not able to break down the Gambian defense.
Yankuba Janneh put the game out of reach in the 81st minute with a second goal for NYC Gambia, who rushed the pitch to celebrate minutes later at the sound of the final whistle.
“It is an unbelievable feeling,” said NYC Gambia midfielder Mamadee Kamara.
Although NYC France were unable to join NYC Poland as the only other team to win back-to-back Copa championships, the side featured the tournament’s golden ball winner for the second year in a row.
Benramdane, whose skill and speed impressed all of those watching at Shuart Stadium, was given the award as the tournament's best player.
Tonight, New York City has a new champion. Gambia, a nation of just 1.7 million people, now boasts the right to be called NYC’s top soccer community.