Siera Leone Telegraph: 16 June 2021:
President Dr Julius Maada Bio has congratulated Leone Stars on their 1-0 victory over Benin in the crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Conakry, Guinea, urging the nation, from his balcony at State House, to draw inspiration from the win to think big.
Striker Kei Kamara, who had always wished for this achievement before his retirement, scored the first-half penalty in the nineteenth minute to secure a place for the national team at the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time since 1996.
“We will continue to strive for higher height, no more small dreams. When I promise, I deliver. I promised that I will take Leone Stars again to the continental stage. This did not come to me as a surprise at all. I believe the boys and I have inspired them enough in the same way I have always wanted to inspire this nation.
“We are a football-loving nation, and I am incredibly happy about this. Just as we trust and believe in ourselves, even out of the football field we can also take this nation to the international level,” he said in a short video released after the match.
“Congratulations to Sierra Leone. We are a football-loving nation, and today, our boys have made history. My government is committed to promoting football and other sports disciplines,” president Bio wrote on Twitter.
Some football observers believe that 1993 to 1996 was a golden era for Sierra Leone football, arguing that no other Leone Stars team had before or afterward achieved the series of results of that period with the military in power. Back then, as Deputy Chairman of the National Provisional Ruling Council, Julius Maada Bio was credited for inspiring the Leone Stars’ squad of that era to win the Amilcar Cabral trophy twice and to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations twice.
President Dr Julius Maada Bio has congratulated Leone Stars on their heroic 0-0 draw against Algeria.
“We will continue to strive for higher height, no more small dreams. When I promise, I deliver. I promised that I will take Leone Stars again to the continental stage. This did not come to me as a surprise at all. I believe the boys and I have inspired them enough in the same way I have always wanted to inspire this nation”.
“Oh! How good and pleasant it is for brethren to come together in unity”. This theme should help remind us about our true motives behind the word “unity”.
Why do we need to hate ourselves? Why should we think about ourselves being better than others when we are all just mere mortal. Just mere mortal made from dust and to dust we shall all return. Why much criticism and cynicism even when strides is being made to fight corruption and improper practices in the country? Why most respondents on this group seem to be displeased with every gains and achievements of our president Dr. Julius Maada Bio? Who have ever been so generous to any of our darling veterans players in the past to have even offered them piece of land to settle down thereby recognizing them as citizens of Sierra Leone? Why are we so jealous of ourselves? Why?
The Leone Stars qualifying win for the Afican Cup of Nations was like a Premier league game. The town was quiet when the game started. People were gathered around television sets at home, in bars, kiosks and open air screens. All you would hear was occasional cheers or cries of frustration. When they scored there were cheers all over and then lots of nail biting, till the final whistle sounded. Then it was time for celebrations. Flags of Sierra Leone were waved from balconies. Youths went crazy…they ran up and down, banging pots and pans; the okada drivers drove their cycles zig-zagging on the roads. People atop cars and blaring their horns. It was a very noisy affair but it was good.
Everyone was happy. I saw a lady in her print dress waving and dancing on her balcony. A Lebanese family was walking up and down their balcony waving SL flag. Football everywhere is a unifier. The one snag was the traffic. The road was blocked from Cotton Tree to Lumley for 2 hours complete. There was news that H.E. was walking from State House to Aberdeen to celebrate with Freetonians. This was later abandoned. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for Leone Stars to progress to the finals. They will have to beat the Nigerians, Egyptians, Tunisians, South Africans, Cameroonians etc but God dae.
Absolutely..well said Mr Yillah this President is a strange man with a weird habit that loves to jump on the bandwagon of all those who have achieved some form of success in their line of work; He knows he is incapable of achieving great things,so he is always quick to express his support and appreciation for anything that is deemed a great success by the media and People of SIerra Leone. Someone should tell this pretentious President that a sustainable form of governance and the game of football are almost the same things,two sides of the same coin:To score a goal and achieve victory in the beautiful game of Football you need a good Coach and players who truly understand the meaning of TEAMWORK.
Governance and all its complicated methods strictly demand the same thing – a winning Team would need a strategic leader that encourages teamwork among his subordinates; How on earth can this President that openly admitted that he does not believe in All inclusiveness be so quick to jump on this memorable victory of our Leone Stars? Mr President to ‘Thine Own Self’ be true; this victory was a result of years and years of persistence and hard work by players and Football officials alike – It had nothing to do with someone resembling a cheerleader on the sidelines, watching, clapping and hollering who doesn’t know “Diddly Squat” about the need for planning, teamwork, dedication and collective responsibility that are considered the most basic essentials for ensuring victory is attained in Football.
What you witnessed was Football Made In Sierra Leone in its most tenacious form; Football that was raised and nurtured like a child in the dusty parks, alleys and streets of Freetown at its bests slowly evolving like a caterpillar that is subtly being transformed into a colorful majestic butterfly. Congratulations to the Leone Stars – This is your moment and yours alone – What does a Potbelly that cannot run a single yard got to do with it? (lmao)
The lesson Leone Stars’ recent victory over their Beninese counterparts should teach us over and beyond the feelings of great joy and pride it has elicited right across the country, is the value of teamwork and cooperation. It tells us that if we as a nation can put aside our differences, be these ethnic, regional and, of course party-political, and work together, united in the pursuit of a common goal, the sky will be our limit.
And contrary to what Bio and his government might have us believe, they are not the sole architect of this victory. Our players have given their best in the service of a national cause and out of the great love they have for the beautiful game and not for the sake of any political party or leader, past and present. Let us savour this fabulous sporting triumph in all its purity and deliciousness, which are sui generis. Politicising the victory smacks of disingenuousness and vulgarity, robbing the game of football and our boys’ achievement of its quintessential beauty.
The victory of Leone Stars has brought a whole nation together for a single purpose : To celebrate our qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations. We may not win the trophy itself, but history will record our presence and fight. We have not been pushovers – Nigeria knows that, as well as our latest victim, Benin.
The lesson for President Bio, as he joins in the celebrations without the slightest reserve, is that he should be looking for ways to foster the kind of societal cohesion which the victory of Leone Stars spontaneously generated yesterday, 15th June 2021. Yesterday, upon the sounding of the final whistle, there was no Mende, there was no Temene, there was no Limba, there was no Fullah, there was no Krio, etc, but Sierra Leoneans. The security forces even forgot what they were supposed to be doing. Learn the lesson Maada Bio.
Congratulations to the Leone Stars on there one neal win over Benin. We are incredibly proud of our national team for this wonderful achievement in the African Nations Cup qualification. We are a sporting nation. And if there is one thing that unite us, and we can all say we are proud of, is our sporting football heroes, that are our good will ambassadors, showing the world and Africa that our country is not always about bad news. I hope this win jolt our moribund politicians to life again, and not only put on the Sierra Leone colours, but use this moment of national celebration, to start something new from their part. Right now our political classes led by Bio are the misfits and the odd ones out in this greatest moment of our countrys history. Twenty five years of bad news and waiting, we as a nation have finally nailed it. Thanks to our boys that brought us this massive smile. Goodness me is about time. We’ve been waiting and waiting. We never planned for this moment, but happened, it did.
I Have to pinch myself. Usually, we Sierra Leoneans, are forced to support other African countries in big Tournaments like this. Cameroon, Nigeria, or Ghana. Finally we have claimed our own spot. And long may it continue. Moments like this call for national reflection, and how our national team has achieved the near impossible feat both, on the field and off the field. Winning the game against Benin is a real icing of the cake. And the most important achievement of all, uniting us as one people, forgetting all our differences. To me that is what we have and the only thing we have. Supporting our national team is very important. Because when you think about it, they represent our country, we all call home. When we see our players is like we are looking at a mirror of ourselves.So in every country, suporting your national team is a big deal.
Sports and especially football is embedded in our DNA. And it can united a countries. France African players winning the 1998 world Cup, was a moment that made the country to embark on a soul searching moments. Despite, some Front National Members, been critical of the make of the team, what matters majority of French people were behind them. Indeed, Didier Yves Drogba Tebily, the Ivorian football was credited to have helped bring peace in and stopping the war in country,in the 2000s using the power of football. So simple game has enormous power to unit people. So it goes with out saying, we Sierra Leoneans should take this opportunity and strive to achieve unity amongst ourselves. The footballers have showed us the way. The possibility and the opportunity is there, we need to just step up and be counted. We are all Leone Stars. So it should stay that way. May God bless the Republic of Sierra Leone.