Kabs Kanu (veteran sportswriter: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 January 2022:
LEONE STARS — the national team of Sierra Leone —-have only one dream in mind. They plan to upset heavy favourites Algeria and shake the African football establishment when they clash with the Desert Warriors in their opening match of Africa Nations Cup 2022 in Douala, Cameroun tomorrow.
Even the Algerians, who have tasted the wrath of the Leone Stars before, know that Sierra Leone footballers today are no longer one of the minnows (Inferior teams ) of African football.
Sierra Leone has matured to become of the most fascinating soccer sides in the continent—Mettle they eloquently demonstrated against the big guns of Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Egypt, Tunisia, Senegal and even Cameroun in previous qualifying competitions.
If Leone Stars do find their true form, they can be very difficult to beat and they can spring surprises as they have done before, never mind some bouts of inconsistency and bad luck against less accomplished African teams at times. Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt, South Africa and Cameroun, especially, can attest to the fact that the Leone Stars have in the past made mockery of their footballing prowess.
And so, when Leone Stars clash with the Desert Warriors tomorrow Tuesday 11th January 2022, expect fireworks. Leone Stars will not be pushovers. Indeed, as their coach, Edward Keister, has been quick to emphasize— Leone Stars are not in Cameroun for sight-seeing or to merely compete. They are there to win.
The Leone Stars squad Algeria will be facing tomorrow is a mixture of young, glittering talents and experienced players who have made their mark on the international soccer stage.
Musa Tombo, Saidu Mansaray, Alhaji Kamara, Mohamed Kamara and Saidu Fofana are talented youngsters that are marvellous on the ball . If the Algerians think they can intimidate them, they will be inviting a shock in Cameroun tomorrow.
Leone Stars are also studded with players who have plied their trades in European and world football creditably. Former England defender Steven Caulker, Sullay Kaikai , Kei Kamara, Skipper Umaru Zingaley Bangura, Kwame Quee, etc. are experienced and established performers abroad who are capable of creating problems for the Algerians.
We however hope that Leone Stars do not become overconfident. The fact must be conceded that Algeria are one of the powerhouses of African and world football and will by no means be easy opponents. They are vastly more experienced than the Leone Stars and have far more laurels under their belt . They are presently the defending Africa champions and have won the Africa Nations Cup twice.
Most of their players are famous professionals like Riyad Mahrez of Manchester City, Benrahma of West Ham United, Guediora of Sheffield United, Qualah of AFC Wimbledon, Islam Slimani of Lyon (France ), Sofiane Fergouli of Galatasaray ( Turkey ) and others. Leone Stars will have to be on top of their game to avoid being crushed by Algeria.
Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad will be rooting for the nation tomorrow and we wish our boys the best of luck.