Syrianska left-back Sheriff Suma is confident that Sierra Leone national team can spring a surprise when the qualifiers for the 31st edition of the AFCON begin midyear in from June 8-16 of the FIFA international window.
The last time Sierra Leone played at AFCON was in 1996 in South Africa and the Syrianska IF defender never minced his words talking to footballsierraleone.net
“It’s a tough group obviously but am happy and ready for such a challenge, if we have players that are fully fit and injury free, we can spring a major surprise. We don’t want it to be like our last campaign, that means we have to prepare well. Nothing is impossible in football,” Suma said.
“We have the players to beat any team in Africa, and I hope we can play our games at home this time, we need our fans behind us. It is always difficult without home support.
Sierra Leone faces tricky games in Group I against the African Champions Ivory Coast, Sudan and host Gabon for only one spot in the final tournament January 2017.
Narrating his experience captaining Sierra Leone in Ivory Coast and in Kinshasa during their last two matches of the 2015 qualifiers Suma noted, “Was a great achievement every player dream of leading their national team, really amazing despite defeats.”
The 28-year-old defender cum winger also revealed for the first time that the national team treated as pariahs after the outbreak of Ebola at home.
“The outbreak leaves us stranded at times and that was one major reason for most of the results towards the end of the 2015 qualifiers.” Suma started.
Suma who was leading Leone Stars, against the Ivory Coast and DR Congo continues, “It was my worst experience playing for Sierra Leone. But, perhaps fatigue was our worst competitor during the campaign.”
For the first time, the host country will participate in the qualifying stages for the AFCON. However, Gabon matches will not count for any points in the group, and will instead be classified as friendlies.