Photo credit Darren Mckinstry: Leone Stars players
Six of Leone Stars players missed their flights to their respective locations in Europe and USA on Thursday after they were denied entry into Zambia from the Democratic Republic of Congo border for lack of Zambian visa.
The players are England based Mustapha Dumbuya, USA based trio of John Trye, Abdul Rahman Bangura and Michael Lahoud and Sweden based strikers Alhassan ‘Crespo’ Kamara and Alhaji ‘Andriano’ Kamara.
This means the players will miss their domestic league matches in the weekend.
Five of these players excluding Trye were part of Leone Stars starting line-up that lost 2-0 to the Leopards of DR Congo in a 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Lubumbashi on Wednesday.
“We left Lubumbashi in the earlier hours of the morning on road heading for Zambia to catch a flight.
On our arrival at the Zambia border we were stopped from entering in the country by immigration officials because they said we needed visa to enter their country,” Goalkeeper Trye explains to the Sports Writers Association of Sierra Leone (SWASAL)
He continued: “We were told by the Leone Stars officials that everything including our visa had been arranged with the Vice President of the DR Congo FA Tshimanga Donatien.”
“We went together to the border with the Vice President but he left us there and we were told by the immigration authorities to wait.
We waited for close to four hours there and finally they told us to pay over US$700 each for the visas. We refused to pay and decided to return to Lubumbashi.”
“We went along with Mohamed ‘Medo’ Kamara to the border but he was allowed to enter because he presented his Finnish passport.”
The players have expressed disappointment.
The Financial officer of the Ministry of Sports Francis Kai Kai who is in charge of arranging flights for the players said all arrangements were made with Donatien and money was given to him for the visas and air tickets for the players.
He added: “I’m disappointed at Donatien because he has proven to be unreliable and we’ll obviously take the matter to the appropriate authorities.”
“We’ve now issued tickets to the players to fly from Lubumbashi airport on Friday.”
Donatien couldn’t be reached on his mobile phone for his reaction as he has travelled to France.
By Mohamed Fajah Barrie in Lubumbashi