Leone Stars Arrive in Praia, Cape Verde

14 June 2013 at 03:02 | 6030 views

By Abubakarr Kamara, Praia, Cape Verde.

A 34-man contingent headed by the Acting Director of Sports, Alphan Coker, which left the shores of Sierra Leone on Wednesday morning landed in Praia later in the evening after transiting for about five hours at the Leopold Airport in Dakar to honour the 5th fixture in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

The squad comprises of 21 players and 13 officials; three from the SLFA, one from Sports Ministry and Parliamentary Sports Committee each, four Technical Staff, a doctor, a coordinator and a physiotherapist.

The squad left Freetown without three key players; Sheriff Suma (suspended), Kei Ansu Kamara (to undergo hernia operation) and Ibrahim Tetteh Bangura (injured). Goalkeeper Ibrahim Tarawallie (Banjul) was dropped at the last minute for his below average performance in last weekend’s encounter while two of the three England-based players who are yet to be confirmed by FIFA made the trip and the Acting Secretary General, Abdulraman Swarray is optimistic things will be sorted out before the match on Saturday.

“We’ve done all we can as an association and a country while our English counterpart have done the same. All documentations are with FIFA and it’s left with them to give us the green light to make them available for use by the Technical Team. I’m sure things will be sorted out in due time for this all important encounter on Saturday,” Swarray said on landing at the airport in Cape Verde.

The Head of delegation, who is also the Acting Director of Sports, Alphan Coker says things are at the moment going on smoothly and assured Sierra Leoneans that structures are in place to keep the players together, keep them focused and give them what is due them according to an agreement between the Ministry/SLFA and the players.

“We’ve agreed that appearance fee per player is one thousand five hundred dollars while match bonuses are two thousand dollars for a win and a thousand dollars for a draw. The appearance fee has been paid to all of them in full while we are waiting for the result of the match on Saturday to act appropriately with regards to bonuses,” Coker says.

Team captain, Ibrahim Obreh Kargbo says they have always been doing their best despite mistakes that usually cost them their qualification but notes that they will do their best to win both remaining matches and and see what happens when Tunisia meets Equatorial Guinea and Cape Verde respectively.

Leone Stars 34 delegation to Cape Verde


Alphan Coker- Acting Director of Sports & Head of the Delegation

Hon. Martin Bangura- Chairman Parliamentary Committee for Sports

Milton Boyle- Member of SLFA Normalisation Committee

Abdul Rahman Swarray- SLFA General Secretary

Sorie Ibrahim Sesay-SLFA Media officer

James Fofana-Team Coordinator

Jonathan McKinstry- Head Coach

John Keister-Assistant Coach

Tom Harris-Assistant Coach

Tamba Moses-Goal Keeper/Coach

John Ansumana- Team Doctor

Darren McKinstry-Medico

Philip Kore- Masseur


Goal Keepers: Habib Sesay (Ports Authority FC), Solomon Zombo Morris (FC Rouen, France), John Trye (Northern Virginia, USA)

Defenders: Mustapha Dumbuya (Crawley Town, England), Umaru `Zeingalay` Bangura (Haugesund), Samuel Bangura (Chelsea, England), David Simbo (Sandviken, Sweden), Gibril ‘Barel’ Sankoh (Henan Jianye, China), Ibrahim ‘Marcel’ Koroma (Varbergs BoIS, Sweden)

Midfielders: John Kamara (Apollon Smirnis, Greece), Mohamed Medo Kamara (Bolton Wanderers, England), Alfred Sankoh (Sanliurfaspor, Turkey), Samuel Barlay (Raevan, Azerbaijan), Abdulai Bel-Baggie (Tranmere Rovers, England), Ibrahim ‘Obrey’ Kargbo (FK Baku, Azerbaijan), Alhassan ‘Crespo’ Kamara (÷rebro SK, Sweden), George `Kweku` Davis (Right To Dream Academy in Ghana), Khalifa Jabbie (Fredrikstad, Norway)

Strikers: Mohamed ‘Poborsky’ Bangura (Elfsborg, Sweden), Sulaiman Fullah Sesay (Etar 1924, Bulgaria), Mustapha ‘Hadji’ Bangura (AEK Larnaca)

Meanwhile Sierra Leone’s Head Coach, Jonathan Mckinstry says he is in Cape Verde for nothing less than all win noting that the Leone Stars are in Praia to compete for a place in the next rounds of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers and not just to honour the fixture.

“It is ridiculous when someone says we do not have a chance to qualify because Tunisia is ahead of us with five points and with two matches remaining. We just have to win our matches and hope that the Tunisia results go our way,” coach Mckinstry said.

Sierra Leone has secured five points and trailing the Group B leaders, Tunisia on a similar margin, followed by Equatorial Guinea, who are a point behind Sierra Leone and next is Cape Verde with three points.

Coach Mckinstry believes they can turn the table over in the remaining matches and when quizzed as to why his side failed to clinch all three points against Tunisia in Freetown last weekend, the 27-year old says football is an interesting game.

“We were on the advantage but a single mistake gave it all up but this is football, once you’ve crossed a bridge, you don’t look behind you. We have put that behind us, correct our mistakes and hope to secure all three points here in Praia,” he asserts.

John Trye, the United States of America (USA) based goalkeeper, who is expected to be between the sticks on Saturday, says they are in good mood and morale in the camp is high. The goalkeeper was not surprised that he was called up after missing to be among the called ups for the Tunisia encounter in Freetown as according to him, Sierra Leone has moved from the point of having just one goalkeeper at a time to having numerous. He says all goalkeepers will not be given an opportunity at the same time and therefore when called up, one has to prove his mettle.

“As a player, I’m always ready to give my best when called upon and this match is no exception. I only hope we have a good game and the Tunisians fall to Equatorial Guinea. This is football, and as far as I’m concerned, anything can happen,” he noted.

Despite having three of his key players missing for the Saturday World Cup qualifying encounter in Praia, Cape Verde, Coach Jonathan Mckinstry is not a worried man and believes he has more options to fill the vacancies.

Sheriff Suma is suspended while both Kei Ansu Kamara and Ibrahim Tetteh Bangura are out injured though all three featured in the last match.

“I will miss these players very much because they are part of the team but I’m not worried because I’ve got other players, who can fit in the system as well,” the 27-year old said.

Mustapha Hadji is expected to start alongside Mohamed Poborsky Bangura on Saturday while Samuel Barlay, who reports have revealed has impressed Coach Mckinstry will also be given the starting nod in midfield and John Trye will take the post.

However, the list of the first team is expected to be announced on Friday afternoon according to a member of the Technical Team and there is the likelihood that two or more players will be making their debut.

“We want to have the best players available on the pitch and if for any reason, a few are unavailable, we will try others and this is because I’ve got 21 players to choose 11 and three from at any given match,” the Leone Stars Head Coach added.