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.
Thanks Mr Shantkie Sorie always a pleasure to read your wonderful and uplifting contribution on this forum. When it comes to competitive sports there is the physical fitness side of things, and the mental preparation. As Sierra Leoneans the best we can do is to support our team. We want our footballers to read the Sierra Leone Telegraph and see uplifting messages. Not the ones that says “oh well we can’t win the tournament”. We are good and we are going to win the cup, period. When footballers are participating in international tournaments, there is always the 23 man squad , the head coach and support staff, like the medical and the people responsible to look after the welfare of players.
Then no one talks about the travelling supporters They are vital in uplifting the spirits of the men in the football pitch. Then you have to add the most vital component of all the country’s press. The love hate relationship between the press and the football team and the way they are portrayed by some of tbe media outlets can make all the difference in winning or loosing games. Negative comments or put down mentality is part and parcel of Sierra Leoneans DNA.As Sierra Leonean the best we can do is to celebrate the positives and work out ways of overcoming the negative issues that is always in the front lobe .
Our country is great and we are a great country. Sierra Leone might be small in population, but we always punch above our weights. We have a lot of good will Ambassadors, and Leone Stars are just one of our great heroes that we should all get behind and support. Winning the African Cup of nations, will not only help heal the divisions in our country, but quiet often, it also help bounce the economy. Then foreign investors will sit up and start looking at us from a different perspective.
Abraham Amadu Jalloh , you said it all. Our boys displayed utter confidence in themselves, bordering on the right type of arrogance. They went out there not knowing what reverence means, whether Riad Marez was on the pitch or not. Whatever happens now, the lesson has sunk as you rightly pointed out that the game of football is like a “biscuit”, one can never predict fully where it will break. Defeatism has no place here.
Mr Siuu, I totally disagree with you. Now we know the opening game between Algeria and Sierra-leone was a draw, your predicted outcome of the game, have already shown, by it very nature and complexities its hard to predict football games especially in international tournaments. Footballers tend to put in more efforts in playing for their countries than their clubs they are signed for. Don’t ask me why, but it seems to me, there is a psychological barrier that they switch on within their brains, that makes them invisible. More like they tell themselves, what ever happened they are here to win games, not to qualify for this tournaments, just to make up the numbers. When was the last time Sierra Leone qualified for a major international football tournament? So we should celebrate our country’s efforts and hope for the best.
After all success are made out of dreams. We have to dream, this time our country is competing with the best amongst the best in the African continent. Algeria is 30th in the world FIFA rankings. Sierra-leone is ranked 108th. That doesn’t mean we should throw our hands up and raised the white flag. The route Sierra Leone took to get to the finals, was not only buffeted by problems, like the qualifying games they played against Benin and Nigeria. At the time if you were following the Nigerian press, you will be forgiven to think actually the Covid19 pandemic escape in a laboratory in Kroobay and infected the entire world. They were harsh in their criticism of our country’s Covid19 protocols. For me beating Nigeria in this tournament and knocking them out of this tournament will be like winning the African Cup of nations finals.
Don’t forget in 1992 Denmark, won the European championships. And they only came in as a replacement due to the break up of the former Yogosalvia. Denmark beat Germany to be crowned champions of Europe. Who couldn’t have predicted that outcome? Same in 2004 Greece, that is know for their ancient Goddess, not a footballing nation stunned the world by beating Portugal the hosts of the European championships. So the best we can do is to support our country. Our players have achieved an incredible feat by just being in the finals. We need something to smile about in Sierra Leone.lets don’t talk about the goal that was disallowed against Algeria. This tournament is there for Sierra Leone to win or loose. Right now the Algerian players confidence have took some knocking. As for Sierra Leone, we are now in a different league. Maybe FIFA needs to revisit their football world rankings. Good luck to Sierra Leone.
As I write, we have held Algeria to a goalless draw, quite a feat in an opening match, against the current champions. The defeatist will have to revise their stance. Today, King Kama The Hunter Dumbuya, Maneh Peters, Amadu Kargbo and all our former late players are dancing on the other side to see their boys defying those who were sure that Algeria would crush us to unrecognisable pieces.
Football is a game of biscuits. Sometimes it breaks where you don’t expect it to break. And if international tournaments is anything to go by, it is hard to predict games, especially when football players are putting on their country’s jerseys, and giving it their all to win games. For some reasons there is extraordinary energy displayed by those that are called upon to represent their country and flag. Many things can affect football outcomes, but what matters to both players and home fans supporters is winning the fixtures. No one remembers the second best team but always the winners of the league, or tournament. Going into this competition, is always nice to be prepared, consistence, and sense of self belief that defy conventions and above all else to let the football boots do the talking and deliver the task at hand.
The mighty Leone Stars are facing Algeria. The good news for us, Leone stars are considered as the under dogs, so they have nothing to proof. Win or draw will proof crucial as they advance through the stages. Make no mistake, Leone Stars are in the group of death. The public and press pressure will be on Algeria to prove themselves to be worthy of their track record of winning the African nations cup. And this time defending it is not going to be easy as walking in the park. As defending champions the bar is set too high to. So they have everything to loose and Leone Stars have everything to gain in beating them in their opener. Confidence building for Leone Stars will not only be enhanced but it will put them up there as the team to beat in this tournament. Which is great because once you becomes a target, by the other African teams, you know there is no room for complacency.
You got to be at your best at all time, not with intermission. And with the country behind the Leone Stars, that will even add to their magic wonders. As a sports person myself, I can already see the Leone Stars returning with the African nations cup championship and the throng of people welcoming them from Lungi International Airport to State House, then finally to Saika Stevens Stadium. We have to dream. Football is coming home.
This may be right about the Leone stars, but no offense, Ii think Algeria will win. They are undefeated in 34 games, beating the likes of Mexico, Nigeria, Senegal, Qatar, Columbia, and much more. They are the likely powerhouse. Their full line up is in the top 5 European leagues, other than Bounedjah, who plays in Qatar, but at this time deciding a deal with Barca! I think Algeria will win but the Leone Stars will put up a good fight. I say 2-1. Comment if you disagree
Victory all the way Leone star the lion mountain. We are the king of the jungle LION mountain
I totally agree with Kabs Kanu’s analysis. Leone Stars can hold their own against any team. All they have to do is keep their heads even when the going gets tough. They demonstrated this spirit last year against Nigeria when they were four goals down. They lifted their heads, beat their chests and roared like the lions they were and forced a draw. They nearly stopped the heart of Nigeria with a victory. We pray that none of them gets injured whatever their campaign turns out to be.
Good Luck…Sierra Leone – You will need it tomorrow and in the days ahead,..Make us Proud
God willingl Leone Stars will emerge victorious against Algeria tomorrow .We are pretty sure ,Leone Star is a force to reckon with not a push over.