The Leone Stars have ended a week of travel delays and interrupted preparations with a defeat to DR Congo. (10 Sep 2014)
The game was the second match in their Group D AFCON Qualifier. Although technically a 'home' game, the Leone Stars were further disadvantaged by having to play in DR Congo (at Stade Mazembe in Lubumbashi). This followed the CAF ruling that all Sierra Leone games must be played abroad, as part of actions designed to halt the spread of Ebola.
Despite being based outside of Sierra Leone, the Leone Stars are facing additional and considerable difficulties associated with Ebola restrictions and the more limited travel options available to them as a result. Having no home games means the players must travel to all games and therefore have very limited time for recovery and preparation.
On this occasion, it has not been possible to get Mallan Roberts over from Canada in time, and a lack of flight availability meant that two players, Alfred Sankoh and Julius Wobay, along with some of the delegation were not able to make the final leg of the journey from Kinshasa to DR Congo.
Captain Umaru 'Zingalay' Bangura was injured in the Cote d'Ivoire game and so unable to start, and it emerged upon arrival in DR Congo that Michael Lahoud was suspended, when a yellow card from the earlier qualification rounds was taken into account.
DR Congo Match
The first half saw a fast paced game on the artificial turf. The Leone Stars settled in and were able to get a number of strong challenges on goal but without success. The score line was 0-0 at half time.
The Leone Stars started stongly in the second half. Luck however went against the Leone Stars in the 58th minute when a DR Congo cross was deflected upwards, leaving keeper Solomon Zombo Morris with little he could do, allowing the DR Congo to move 1-0.
The Leone Stars pressed hard, particularly in the last 15 minutes with a number of well worked passes. However DR Congo scored a second in the dying minutes as the Leone Stars pressed for the equaliser.
Post Match Interview
Speaking after the game Coach McKinstry said:
"The lack of preparation time has clearly had an impact today. Travel and problems with flights have meant that the team have only been able to have one full day of training in the last 10 days. That could be seen in our first touch and organisation."
"Added to that, fatigue is clearly an issue also. The team have spent more time in travel this week than we have in DR Congo - including spending 2 of our 4 recovery days travelling or waiting in airports. It was evident in the second half that our boys were tiring"
The situation of the Leone Stars is in stark contrast to the Leopards of DR Congo who had been in camp for around 10 days, and had no foreign travel as both the Cameroon and Leone Stars games were played in Lubumbashi, DR Congo.
"As I said earlier in the week, talent and tactics can only take us so far. Preparation and sufficient time in training camps is also vital to ensure we are match ready and playing as one team. You would not sit an exam without ensuring proper preparation - the same is true of a football match and more so an AFCON qualifier."
"On FIFA match dates, such as these, players are available to train from the Monday before a Saturday game. I will continue to work with the SLFA and Ministry on the steps that can be taken to ensure sufficient training time before our games as I remain clear that it is vital we make full use of FIFA preparation days if we wish to maintain and further enhance our world ranking and progress in the African Cup of Nations."
- Solomon Zombo Morris - US Quevily (France)
- Mustapha Dumbuya - Notts County (England)
- David Simbo - Al Hilal (Sudan)
- Abdul Rahman Bangura - Atlanta Silverbacks (USA)
- Sheriff Suma - Syrianska (Sweden)
- Mohamed Kamara - Bolton Wanderers (England)
- Khalifa Jabbie - Balikesirspor (Turkey)
- George Davies - (Germany)
- Alhassan Kamara - Orebo (Sweden)
- Kei Kamara [Captain] - (England)
- Alhaji Kamara - Norrkoping (Sweden)
- John Trye - ASA Charge (USA)
- Mohamed Kamanor - UMEA (Sweden)
- Ibrahim Kallay - Lulea (Sweden)
- Albert Kargbo - Friskaviljor (Sweden)
- Umaru Bangura - Dynamo Minsk (Belarus)
Next Game in Group D of AFCON 2015 Qualifiers
The Leone Stars will play Cameroon in October.
- 10-11/10/14: Sierra Leone v Cameroon
- 15/10/14: Cameroon v Sierra Leone
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 news and pictures of Leone Stars games and training camps - visit www.johnnymckinstry.com/leonestars
Notes to Editors
- The game is the second game in the Group D qualifiers as part of AFCON 2015 - against DR Congo (home leg) on 10 Sep 2014.
- You can read more about the AFCON 2015 tournament and the Leone Stars fixtures.
- 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.