Freetown: Leone Stars Blow Away World Cup Chance

11 June 2013 at 18:40 | 2674 views

By Mohamed Fajah Barrie in Freetown.

Sierra Leone has blown the chance to get back into their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying Group B after they gave away their lead twice and conceded a late goal to leaders Tunisia in a 2-2 at the National in Freetown.

Leone Stars who played with three new faces: Greece based John Kamara, home-based goal Keeper Ibrahim Tarawallie and the youngster George Davies from the Right to Dream academy in Ghana looked to have given new coach Johnny McKinstry the perfect start to his coaching career and revive their hopes of making the play-offs but Ben Youssef-Fakhreddine’s late goal denied them a victory.

Earlier, USA based Kei Ansu Kamara’s opener was cancelled out by Oussama Daraggi’s penalty before Alhassan Kamara made it 2-1.

The result means that Carthage Eagles maintain a five- point lead over second place Leone Stars and just need a point in their last two games to qualify to the next stage of the qualifiers as group B leaders following Cape Verde’s 2-1 win over Equatorial Guinea 2-1 at home on Saturday.

The match in Freetown was boring and lacked excitement at the start. George Davies who was later replaced by Ibrahim Teteh Bangura as he picked up an injury was the only one that made some nice moves with the ball from the left wing but that was never enough to bring the game to create some excitement. The match however gained momentum in the last fifteen minutes.

Despite all these, the Tunisians were the first to threaten in the second minute of action when an attacker failed to convert a scramble ball in the six-yard box.

Afterwards no team got a clear opportunity or clearly dominated play. The spectators at the jam-packed stadium had to wait until the 31st minute to see a near miss by Leone Stars through Sweden based Mohamed ‘Poborsky’ Bangura whose shot from out of the box flew over the cross bar.

Leone Stars took some amount of control of the game from this point and made some positive moves towards their opponent’s goal and it yielded dividend seven minutes to the break when Kei Ansu Kamara scored.

Kamara who was on loan to English Premier League club Norwich City jumped above everyone in the box to head in a corner-kick taken by Sheriff Suma to finish the first half 1-0 to Leone Stars. It was Kamara’s third international goal.

The second period was not like the first half as it was full of actions and was exciting. The Tunisians brought in Oussama Daraggi and took control of the early part of the half, and were rewarded with a penalty when the Leone Stars captain Ibrahim ‘Obrey’ Kargbo handled the ball in the box in the 54th minute.

The penalty was contested by Kargbo and his colleagues but the Gabonese referee stood by his decision. Oussama Daraggi stepped up a minute later and rolled in the ball to the right hand corner sending the Sierra Leonean goal keeper the wrong way.

Leone Stars brought in Azerbaijan based midfielder Samuel Barlay replacing John Kamara and it yielded dividend as they stepped up their game and began pressurizing the Tunisian defence headed by veteran skipper Karim Haggui who is the only surviving member of the Carthage Eagles squad that won the 2004 African Cup of Nations on their own soil.

Sierra Leone nearly restored their lead in the 69th minutes when Mohamed ‘Poborsky’ Bangura’ shot from just outside the box after receiving a pass from substitute Ibrahim Teteh Bangura. That shot passed very close to the upright post.

The moment to celebrate came two minutes later when left-back Suma who took nearly all his team’s spot kicks hit a ball hard towards goal from the left and was headed in by Sweden based Alhassan ‘Crespo’ Kamara to send the crowd at the stadium to ecstasy. Like Kei Kamara, it was Alhassan Kamara’s third goal for Leone Stars all against Tunisia in nine months period.

The Tunisians never lost hope and spent the last five minutes to full time in the Leone Stars half. As a result they got their equalizer in the 90th minute due to poor goal keeping.

Ben Youssef-Fakhreddine toed a loose ball in an area in the right of the box to slowly pass the goal line where the Leone Stars goalie Ibrahim Tarawallie was standing. Fans didn’t believe what they saw because it was a very cheap goal.

Leone Stars tried to restore their advantage but it was too late and after the final whistle was blown the disappointed fans pelted different objects on the Leone Stars team as they tried to retire to their dress room where they stayed for over an hour waiting for the fans to leave before they headed to their hotel.

The match was a repeat of the 2013 African Cup of Nations qualifier in Freetown in September last year as Tunisia equalized 2-2 at the National Stadium in the dying minutes after Alhassan ‘Crespo’ Kamara had restored Leone Stars’ lead.

After the game the Tunisia captain Karim Haggui told “We are happy with the result but it was a very difficult game for us because Sierra Leone were good. We lost concentration and conceded two goals.”

He added: “It’s not yet over as we still need a point to make it to the next round. We know everything is possible in football but I hope we’ll get one point in our two remaining matches and qualify.

The Leone Stars caption Ibrahim Kargbo on his part blamed the referee and poor goal keeping for the draw but refused to give up.

“The referee was not fair to us as the penalty he gave the Tunisians was not genuine. I never handled the ball in the box as he claimed,” a disappointed Kargbo told

“The second goal was due to a poor goal keeping but this is football and it always happens. I don’t think we are out of the race, we have two more games to go and everything is possible. We can win our two games and Tunisia lose theirs, so we’re still in the race.”

Leone Stars’ next fixture is against Cape Verde in Praia on Saturday and will play Equatorial Guinea at home in their last game of the qualifiers in September.

Tunisia travel to Malabo to face Equatorial Guinea also on Saturday and will play host to Cape Verde in their last match also in September.

Sierra Leone line-up: 1, Ibrahim Tarrawallie (GK Booked 85’), 2, Mustapha Dumbuya, 11, Sheriff Suma (Booked 52’), 17, Umaru Bangura, 6, Ibrahim Kargbo (Captain), 4, Mohamed ‘Medo’ Kamara, 12, John Kamara (Barlay 59’), 8, Alhassan ‘Crespo’ Kamara (Sankoh 85’), 18, George Davies (Teteh Bangura 74’), 14, Kei Kamara, 5, Mohamed ‘Poborsky’ Bangura

Subs: 16, Habib Sesay (GK), 13, Alfred Sankoh, 15, Samuel Bangura, 10, Mustapha Bangura, 9, Ibrahim Teteh Bangura, 7, Samuel Barlay, 3, Ibrahim Koroma

Coach: Jonathan McKinstry

Tunisia line-up: 22 Bencherifi A. Moez, 2, Chahed Sofiene, 12, Chammam Khelil, 20, Ardennour Aymen, 3, Haggui Karim (Capt, Booked 90+2’), 6 Ragued Houcine, 8, Hammami Chad (M’Skani 83’), 15, Sassi Fertani, 18, MKari Yassine (Oussama 45’), 9, Kasdaoui Salama, 11, Ben Youssef-Fakhreddine (Booked 90+2)

Subs: 1, Ben Mustapha (GK), 16, Dkhie Atef, 10, Darragi Oussama, 7, M’skani Youssef, 17, Chelouf Ghazi, 13, Falhi Radhouene, 21, Maaloul Ali, 14, Taziri Fakhreddine, 19, Harrane Ahmed, 4, Derbali Saheh, 23, Chermiti Amine, 5, Brigui Alaya

Coach: Nabil Maaloul

Referees: Otogo Castane Eric (Gabon)

AR1: Vinga Theophile (Gabon)

AR2: Engone Bibang Jean (Gabon)

RR: Roponat Mbourou Yves (Gabon)

MC: Mahamat Saleh (Chad)

RI: Ntagungira Celestim (Rwanda)

Goal Scorers: S/Leone: Kei Ansu Kamara 38’ & Alhassan ‘Crespo’ Kamara 70’
Tunisia: Darragi Oussama 54’ & Youssef M’sakni 89’.

Photo: The Leone Stars.

Photo credit: Mohamed Fajah Barrie.