Mousa E. Massaquoi: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 September 2018:
Following last weekend’s defeat of Sierra Leone’s national football team – Leone Stars by Ethiopia in the 2019 Africa Nations’ Cup qualifier, the Leone Stars team coach, John Keister has apologized to the nation.
He made his apology on Thursday, at National Stadium Hostel in Freetown, where the Minister of Sports was responding to social media allegations and to some local tabloids publications over the number of delegates that went to Ethiopia.
He said they had done a lot of work with the players before the match, and that the players did very well.
“We have got the best squad to present as the national team and the preparation mentally has to go a long way. Mistake is part of the players, but we are trying hard to minimize it. When they do well, we will praise them and when they do not do well, we will encourage them to do more,” he said.
But the Coach said that the performance of the players for their respective teams was not replicated at the match with Ethiopia.
The Minister of Sports, Ibrahim Nyelenkeh maintained that he was really disappointed with some members of the media.
He alleges that the wrong figure of delegates that was propelled by some local tabloids that went to Ethiopia was exaggerated and politically motivated.
The Sports minister disclosed that 37 people were budgeted for, contrary to social media reports. He explained that among the 37 were 27 players, 8 officers of the technical team, 2 officers from the Ministry of Sports, 2 officers from the Sierra Leone Football Association, 1 journalist and the team coach himself.
He however confirmed that the total number in the delegation was 45, but pointed out that the other people bought tickets for themselves and paid their hotel bills.
He made it clear that anyone who is willing to buy his or her ticket and pay his or her hotel bills will travel with the team on away games.
“Out of the 23 players invited, only 21 turned up and I used my discretion to swap one for SWASAL and the other for the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on sports in Parliament,” he maintained.
Meanwhile, the Sports minister confidently stated that he is ready to face any committee to defend the allegation.
Responding to questions as to whether the National Stadium which is under rehabilitation will be ready for the Ghana game, he said the Chinese engineer has informed him that the stadium will be available but only for 19, 000 spectators, but said he will take the matter to cabinet for discussion.
Minister Nyelenkeh (Photo below: wearing glasses), speculated that, “may be after the deliberation, cabinet will decide whether the match should be played in neighboring Guinea or Bo City because the Chinese engineer is still advocating for the reduction of spectators for the match.”