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Page last updated at 16:38 GMT, Thursday, 7 October 2010 17:38 UK

Gambian Nyassi keen to build on US Open Cup win

The Gambia's Sanna Nyassi
My confidence keeps growing (and) I'm making sure that I continue working hard at finishing during training

Sanna Nyassi

Burkina Faso should be wary this weekend if Gambian midfielder Sanna Nyassi continues his hot scoring streak.

The United States-based Nyassi emerged as the surprise hero this week as his Seattle Sounders side became the first team in 27 years to defend the US Open Cup.

Having joined the Sounders in 2008, Nyassi took two years - and 35 league games - to score his first goal.

But his strike in the MLS against Toronto last Saturday was nothing compared to his heroics in front of a record US Open Cup crowd of 31,311 fans on Tuesday.

For the 21-year-old netted both goals as Seattle beat Columbus Crew 2-1 to win the cup - taking his strike rate to three in two.

"I'm very, very proud of these guys - and happy that Sanna didn't make me wait two years for his next goal!" Sounders coach Sigi Schmid joked after the game.

After Columbus took the lead after 20 minutes, Nyassi - who's in the squad for this weekend's Nations Cup qualifier in Ouagadougou - scored the first of his goals.

Found by Nathan Sturgis after Columbus keeper Andy Gruenebaum's punch, Nyassi fired in low to the bottom right-hand corner from 15 yards out eight minutes before the break.

Midway through the second half, the youngster was quickest to react after Steve Zakuani's header came back off the crossbar and poked home to win the game for Seattle.

"It's a good feeling," said Nyassi after the match. "After breaking the deadlock the other day, the chances came and I made sure I finished both of them."

"My confidence keeps growing (and) I'm making sure that I continue working hard at finishing during training."

Nyassi, whose twin brother Saine is an international and also based in the United States, will hope to use these newfound skills to win a place in the Scorpions' starting line-up this weekend.

The Gambia's Saine Nyassi
Nyassi's twin brother Saine is also based in the United States

Sanna missed The Gambia's opening 3-1 win over Namibia in Group F last month, a match where his brother was on target.

The twins, who both played club football at home in West Africa before moving to the United States, were part of their nation's historic African Under-17 crown in 2005.

This was the first - and only - title The Gambia has ever won at African level.

And the brothers then built upon this success by playing in one of African youth football's greatest upsets, as the Baby Scorpions defeated Brazil 3-1 at Fifa's U17 World Cup.

Two years later, the Nyassi duo took part in Fifa's U20 World Cup in Canada where they came to the attention of American scouts.

Now the twins have completed their natural progression into the senior set-up as the Scorpions intensify their efforts to qualify for their maiden Nations Cup at senior level.

The West Africans currently lead Group F, which only has three teams following Mauritania's withdrawal, and this weekend face the opponents most likely to block their path to the 2012 finals.

And should Scorpions coach Paul Put field a youngster growing in confidence, Sanna Nyassi could provide an early sting in the tail.

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see also
Gambia defeat Namibia in Group F
05 Sep 10 |  African
2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers
10 Apr 10 |  African

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