Leone Stars move to 54th in world rankings and 9th in Africa (FIFA - 5 June 2014)
Following results against Swaziland and progress through to the next stage of CAF Nations Cup qualifying, Sierra Leone have been rewarded for their good form over the last year by moving up 17 places to 54th Place in the FIFA World Rankings released on 5 June 2014
This is sierra Leone's highest ranking in a generation, and only 3 places off their highest ever position of 51st, achieved in January 1996. The move also sees them move up to 9th place in the African rankings.
Reacting to the news Coach McKinstry commented, "at the beginning of the year we had two aims for 2014 - qualifying the team for the African Nations Cup in Morocco 2015, and moving the team into the top 50 of the world rankings...this news is pleasing as it, combined with recent results, shows that we are moving forward on both of our objectives"
Asked for why he thought the team were progressing as they are, Coach McKinstry responded:
"The importance of time in training camps cannot be understated. Every time the Leone Stars are afforded the opportunity to come together in full training camps, we are not only focussed on the immediate game, but also on establishing the building blocks that will allow the team to develop in the longer term - seeking to build an approach and a consistency that will allow us to maintain and build on recent progress.
Since taking up the role as Head Coach of the Leone Stars 14 months ago I have been focused on developing a specific style of football with the group - one that promotes excellence and quality of play first and foremost.
I am a strong believer that you must secure the best talent and then work with them collectively to get the component parts right. After that results will follow. We have seen from recent games that the team are now beginning to play more tactically - and are passing the ball and retaining possession much better than they were previously. "
Indeed, in the recent game against Swaziland at the weekend, a full technical analysis has confirmed that the Leone Stars controlled the game from the outset - with around 80% of possession across the game as a whole, and around 80% of all passess completed successfully.
Asked what this movement in the rankings means for the team, McKinstry responded,
"positive news such as this is a reflection the entire group - not just me.
The players, technical and support staff who are in camp have all played a significant role in our progress over the last year. They have bought into the ideal and philosophy that I have advocated, and are working with me to implement it on the training ground and in matches.
I am confident that with the continued focus of the players and staff, and the support from the SLFA and Ministry surrounding the Leone Stars, that we can continue to grow as a team, and reach greater heights - ultimately achieving our objectives of a top 50 world ranking and qualification for AFCON 2015 and beyond."
Third round of AFCON 2015 Qualifiers
The Leone Stars defeated Swaziland 1-0 in Freetown on 31 May 2014 and now progress to face Seychelles in the third round of AFCON qualifiers in July and August 2014.
Leone Stars Highlights
You can click any of the pictures below to see a full screen version of the picture. You can then also choose to click the play arrow to watch a slide show of all images.
For more news and pictures of Leone Stars games and training camps - visit www.johnnymckinstry.com/leonestars
Notes to Editors
- You can read more about the FIFA world Rankings
- Johnny McKinstry was appointed Head Coach of the Sierra Leone National Men's Football team on 11th April 2013. You can read more about his time in charge of the Leone Stars
- See www.johnnymckinstry.com for a range of information - biography, press releases and photographs for press use.