Preview: Sierra Leone V Cameroon – Sunday May 24 – Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaoundé
The new generation of Sierra Leone Olympic players begin a tough and ambitious journey to qualify for the 2016 Brazil Olympics, with a clash against stronger opposition Cameroon.
The first leg second round to be played at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaoundé come Sunday in one of this weekend Olympic qualification tie across Africa.
It is from these finals that Africa’s three representatives at the Olympics will emerge to represent the continent in Rio Brazil 2016.
Should they get past Cameroon young Lions as unlikely expected, Sierra Leone would have to contend another crunch contest against the desert kids from Algeria to reach the Caf U-23 Championships, slated for Senegal in December.
In August, the senior national team was banned from playing matches in its own country by African football body (CAF) forcing the senior National team, Leone Stars to play every game on the road, it ended up as a failed attempt to reach 2015 African Cup of Nations.
But that’s just the beginning of it, it’s no secret the Ebola epidemic contributed to poor preparation for football in Sierra Leone but while qualifying for the Olympics might prove a dream too far-fetched, but the challenge for Coach John Keister and Abu Bakarr Tostao is an added motivation for the former internationals.
Cameroon already named a strong squad for the double-header most prominent Lazio midfielder Joseph-Marie Minala is amongst the few foreign-based players called up to revamp the Cameroon squad.
Assistant coach Emmanuel Maboang has said he expect a tougher test from Sierra Leone but maintained that they are ready for a physical test.
Maboang acknowledged the Lions face a difficult contest against a Sierra Leone side that were training in isolation amid the fear of Ebola.
“We know we will be tested physically against a difficult side, the children are ready. “The team played so well during against Zimbabwe – they did everything that was asked of them – and it was always going to be hard to leave some players out.
According the team’s media officer Adikalie Kargbo, Sierra Leone can only boost of four experience home-based players that were part of the 2012 U- 20 qualifiers that held Cameroon in Freetown but were defeated 2-0 in Cameroon. Ibrahim Kamara, Kwame Quee, and Yemi Dunia are the prominent names in the Sierra Leone squad.
It is, however, clear that Cameroon will provide stronger resistance at home. At this level, Sierra Leone has never qualified for the Olympic Games.
They were close to qualification for the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona when they were knocked out in the final qualifying round by Ghana.
By Alie Bittar