Leone Stars caretaker coach, John Jebor Sherrington, (pictured) says he is ready to lead his team and is highly optimistic the local-based players are ready to showcase their talent and they will deliver come Sunday.
The 63-year-old is ready to react to the 2002 World Cup qualifiers 2-0 defeat suffered in Freetown against Sudan.
Sherrington who had stints with the Leone Stars in 1995, 2006 and 2008 dismissed recent criticisms of selecting majority of Home-based players in the squad.
“I took that decision because I want to give these boys opportunities. I have absolute confidence in them that they will deliver.
“These are U-23 players who recently eliminated Cameroun in Yaoundé in the U-23 qualifiers which surprises plenty people and am convinced they will do the same here.
“I have some few foreign-based players that will make a perfect blend for this game to give me the result I need” Coach Jebbor optimistically stated.
However, Leone Stars skipper, Umaru Bangura admitted that playing against Sudan will be a difficult task for them.
The 27- year old Dinamo Minsk Central defender made the disclosure shortly after the team’s first training session yesterday afternoon at the Khartoum International Stadium (Match Venue).
He said the fact that the Sudanese squad will feature players mainly playing in the country’s top football clubs, gives them a better cohesion and understanding in this match.
“African football is not like Europe if a team has players that are together for a long time it gives them an edge over their opponents. It is very difficult to play such a squad because they are used to playing together at home” Zaingalay, has he is fondly called, admits.
He says that notwithstanding, they are here to put up a brave fight against the 1970 African champions.
“We are here to get the maximum points against them or at least a point to enhance our chances in this campaign. I have spoken and assess most of the boys in the squad, they are determined to succeed that is why am very optimistic even though it’s going to be difficult,” Bangura noted.
Responding to criticisms that he led the squad to a disastrous 2015 AFCON campaign last, the Leone Stars skipper pointed out that the squad was disadvantaged in the last qualifiers for having to play most of their matches in their opponents’ home grounds due to the Ebola outbreak.
“It’s going to be a different ball game this time round more so when we hope to host our own matches at home. We suffered a lot in the last qualifiers but am with the conviction that it will not happen in these qualifiers”.
Bangura who played no part in the last 2-0 defeat suffered at the hands of the Sudanese in Freetown in the 2002 World Cup qualifiers, says they are determined to seek revenge against their opponents in Sunday’s clash.
“If they can be beaten by Congo in the last qualifiers here in this venue I see no reason why we cannot do the same. We have a youthful side that can cause an upset,” he boasted.
He, however, says the absence of a competitive league system at home will affect the performance of the boys in this campaign.
“We have a young and talented squad but the fact that there has been no league system back home for the last one year that will have a toll on the fitness level of these boys. But from my assessment in the few sessions we have had so far, I believe they are prepared and ready to give us the result,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Leone Stars Israel based midfielder, Mohamed ‘Medo’ Kamara has arrived here in Khartoum this morning to complete the number of four foreign-based players invited for Sunday’s AFCON showdown against Sudan.
In another development, the Falcons of Jediane held their first training session today ahead of Sunday’s encounter against Leone Stars at the Khartoum International Stadium located in the Central business capital.
A Sudanese sports journalist told me shortly before our departure from the continent oldest stadium this afternoon that, the national team coach, Mohamed Abdallah Mazda has been having difficulties in assembling a squad due to the involvement of these players in CAF Inter-clubs competitions in recent times.
He says Sudanese fans are worried about this development ahead of the match on Sunday and most of them, he says, have expressed cautious optimism against Leone Stars
Source Sorie Ibrahim in Khartoum