Sierra Leone National Team

Leone Stars Training ahead of Ivory Coast away encounter (6 Sep 2014)

The Sierra Leone 'Leone Stars' have arrived in Abidjan, Ivory Coast ahead of their opening Group D qualification game this weekend (6 September 2014).

Alfred Sankoh, Mike Lahoud, Abdul Rahman Bangura and Mohamed 'Medo' Kamara [Training camp ahead of Leone Stars v Ivory Coast on 6 September 2014 (Pic © Darren McKinstry /]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".



Match Speculation

Alhaji Kamara  [Training camp ahead of Leone Stars v Ivory Coast on 6 September 2014 (Pic © Darren McKinstry /]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.

Coach McKinstry working with goalkeeper John Trye [Training camp ahead of Leone Stars v Ivory Coast on 6 September 2014 (Pic © Darren McKinstry /]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."





Training Squad

  • 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)



Preparation 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.

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Notes to Editors

  1. 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.  
  2. You can read more about the AFCON 2015 tournament and the Leone Stars fixtures.
  3. 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
  4. See for a range of information - biography, press releases and photographs for press use.
  5. To arrange an email or telephone interview, please contact 

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You can read more about Coach McKinstry's:

About Coach McKinstry

Coach McKinstry is a UEFA Pro Licensed Football Coach, with a number of successes across his 20+ year career to date.    He is currently Head Coach of the Gambia National Team and Head Coach of Gor Mahia FC in Kenya (2022-24) where he won two Kenya Premier League titles (2023-24, 2022-23), and the 2023-24 Kenya Charity Shield, returning the club to the top of Kenyan football.

As Head Coach of the Uganda National Team, (2019 - 2021) he led Uganda to win CECAFA 2019 and delivered a win from 2 in every 3 games, going undefeated in 8 in evey 10 games.  This represented the highest 'win' and 'undefeated' rate achieved by a Uganda National Team Coach in over 15 years.

He was Head Coach of the Rwanda National Football Team (2015-16). Within 17 months he led Rwanda to a number of highs - including their first ever appearance in the knockout stages of a major international tournament (Quarter-finals of CHAN, Jan 2016) and finished runner-up in CECAFA (Dec 2105), being named 'Coach of the Tournament' for his efforts. 

Across 2013-14, he was Head Coach of the Sierra Leone National Men's Football team. Within just over a year, he had led Sierra Leone to their highest ever FIFA World and African rankings - 7th in Africa and 50th in the World (August 2014). 

He has also been Head Coach of Saif Sporting Club, Bangladesh Premier League (2018-19); and FK Kauno Zalgiris, Lithuanian A-Lyga (2017-18).   

Coach McKinstry is a European (UEFA), American (NSCAA) and university qualified football coach and a member of Common Goal.

Quotes: What the media say

  • This is not a man who does things by the book. Having been a coach from the age of 15, McKinstry already has miles on the clock.

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    Ben Smith BBC Sport
  • If one day, McKinstry reaches the very pinnacle of the game, few could begrudge him his day in the sun... no one could say he hasn’t earned it.

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    Daily Mirror
  • There is an almost missionary zeal to Johnny McKinstry's devotion to his job.

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    Daily Mirror
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