New faces are emerging in the ranks of the Sierra Leone national team since the country’s elimination from the last Africa Cup of Nations. When the Leone Stars last played in the same group that included champions Ivory Coast, third-placed Congo Democratic Republic and Cameroon. Sierra Leone lined up not less than 15-foreign based players.
But in the recent qualifiers for the 2017 Cup of Nations and Olympic Games, the country has turned to a new crop of domestic stars. These are the same players who will be lining up to face Mauritania in the African Nations Championship (Chan) – a competition reserved solely for players who are based in their own country.
This set of players will enter the match looking to continue a run toward a perhaps historic year.
Coach Abdulai Bah is expected to start with eight players from the U-23 team that have shown a little glimpse of their attributes in Yaoundé, Cameroon at the Olympic stadium in Nouakchott, Mauritania in the first leg tie of the African Nations Cup Championship (CHAN) qualifier.
Sierra Leone is in the same group with Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal with only two teams set to qualify from their West Zone A.
However, Head Coach of the team, Bah, 42 had admitted that he knows next to nothing about their opponents and host but dismissed any fears ahead of the opening fixture.
“No idea about our opponents, but we don’t need to worry much because we already we will be tested physically against a difficult side, but the lads are ready.
“Most of them were in the team that played so well during against Cameroon – they did everything that was asked of them.”
Sierra Leone team news: Ibrahim Bah of Mighty Blackpool is a very solid home-grown stopper if he stays fit will be coach Bah first choice keeper.
Kwame Quee the FC Johansen midfielder is a potential rising national idol, from midfield he goes up against the ultra-aggressive opposition; he is not afraid and is very disciplined attacking midfielder.
Alie Badara Kella Jr, Kamboi Eagles skipper, who won the premier title with Diamond stars before heading back to Kamboi Eagles, has said hard work, discipline and commitment have contributed to his recent national call-up.
Badara Kella a central attacker and sometimes played wide is highly rated and was part of the Eagles squad that ASO Chlef eliminated in Algeria February this year in the CAF confederation cup this year.
Sorie Barrie of FC Johansen and Captain of the squad and was also the skipper for the Olympics team that stunned Cameroon in Yaoundé have a brighter prospect.
He scored Sierra Leone’s only goal that eliminated host Cameroon, in recent weeks he has been regular in junior and senior level. He partner with experience Bolton’s Mohamed Kamara and PAS Lamia’s John Kamara in Leone Stars 1 nil defeat to Sudan.
Ibrahim Kamara and Yemi Dunia have previously played for the national U-20 side both are prominent names in Bah’s squad.
Lahai Coker, who will start from the bench, is a purposeful defensive holding midfielder. He also started his career in Kenema in an area called Simbeck, played several mini leagues before joining Kamboi Eagles.
Later left Eagles for Kallon FC and after some brief spell with Kallon that took him to Italy on friendlies he later re-joined Kamboi eagles to re-launch his fledging career
Meanwhile, The Leone Stars home-based team was eliminated from the 2014 preliminary round at home against neighbouring Guinea on the away goals rule after both sides played to a 1-1 draw at the National Stadium in Freetown following the goalless at the September 28 stadium Conakry Guinea.
Similar circumstances in the 2010 qualifier, Leone Stars home-based hopes of reaching Sudan 2011 Championship (CHAN) finals ended after losing to Senegal on penalties.
Out of 42 countries, only 15 will be at the 2016 finals joining host Rwanda, the tournament will start from 16 January to 7 February.
Leone Stars starting team: 4-3-3 In Goal: Ibrahim Bah Defenders: Saidu, I-Kamara, A-Suma, Y-Dunia
Midfielders: Captain S-Barrie DM, K- Quee, A-Kanu AM, Attackers: O-Tunronka, A- Bangura, S Tarawallie
Subs: Unisa Conteh, Mohamed Bah, Abdul Kamara, Kabiru Mansaray Lahai Coker Jrn, Alfred Nyuma, and Abubakarr Mansaray
By Alie Bittar