The Sierra Leone 'Leone Stars' have arrived in Abidjan, Ivory Coast ahead of their opening Group D qualification game this weekend (6 September 2014).
Coach McKinstry is looking forward to opening game of the AFCON 2015 Group D qualifier this coming Saturday against the 'Elephants' of the Cote d'Ivoire.
The game will be played in Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny in Abidjan on Sat 6 September (17:00 Local / GMT; 18:00 UK).
The game comes just a few weeks after the Leone Stars reached their highest ever placing in the FIFA World Rankings (50th in the world; 7th in Africa)
Speaking on arrival in Abidjan (Wed 3 Sept) Coach McKinstry said:
"The squad are flying into the Ivory Coast today and we will commence our preparations with training tomorrow. The squad are all eager and know, following the progress that we have made over recent months, that the game this weekend is key in progressing to the AFCON finals and continuing our ongoing development".
Asked about the indications from the Ivorian Government over the last week that the game would not go ahead, he replied:
"Obviously the situation has been complex and it hasn't helped, in the context of the range of reports that were suggesting that the game would not proceed, that we only received an indication from the Ivorian FA in the last couple of days that the game would be proceeding as scheduled.
That late confirmation and associated logistical difficulties has delayed our arrival into country. The fact that a number of players are still to arrive has impacted on preparations. However, the squad are focussed and we look forward to demonstrating our potential at the weekend and securing some points."
Impact of Ebola
The Leone Stars have proactively taken a number of key steps beyond that required by the WHO or CAF, to help ensure the initial games proceeded amidst the worldwide concerns about Ebola. In addition to being proactive in relocating their home fixtures they have, for the moment, also only selected players resident outside of Sierra Leone, and offered that only European technical staff would travel to the Ivory Coast game.
Asked about the impact of Ebola on the team and their preparations, Coach McKinstry reflected:
"The Ebola outbreak is a serious challenge for everyone in west Africa and globally. The squad are however also aware that the success of the national team can have a direct impact on public morale and we are determined to do what we can to raise the spirits of the nation.
The additional steps we have taken are not without impact on us, but we felt it important to ensure that Sierra Leone continued to be represented in a positive light on the world stage. We will continue to keep the matter under review and respond accordingly.
Through determination, and the resilience of the people of Sierra Leone, we know that the outbreak will be brought to an end, and we are working tirelessly to ensure that when that does happen that any global focus on Sierra Leone will also include the Leone Stars' participation and progress in AFCON 2015."
- Solomon Zombo Morris - US Quevily (France)
- John Trye - ASA Charge (USA)
- Sheriff Suma - Syrianska (Sweden)
- Umaru Bangura - Dynamo Minsk (Belarus)
- David Simbo - Al Hilal (Sudan)
- Mohamed Kamanor - UMEA (Sweden)
- Mustapha Dumbuya - Notts County (England)
- Mallan Roberts - FC Edmonton (Canada)
- Abdul Rahman Bangura - Atlanta Silverbacks (USA)
- Mohamed Kamara - Bolton Wanderers (England)
- Michael Lahoud - Philadelphia Union (USA)
- Alfred Sankoh - Khazar Lankaran (Azerbeijan)
- Khalifa Jabbie - Balikesirspor (Turkey)
- Julius Wobay - Neftchi Baku (Azerbeijan)
- Ibrahim Kallay - Lulea (Sweden)
- Albert Kargbo - Friskaviljor (Sweden)
- George Davies - (Germany)
- Alhassan Kamara - Orebo (Sweden)
- Kei Kamara - (England)
- Alhaji Kamara - Norrkoping (Sweden)
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 first game in the Group D qualifiers as part of AFCON 2015 - against Ivory Coast (away leg) on 6 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.