Sierra Leone coach John Keister speaking for the first time after the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations draw for Côte d’Ivoire 2023, says his Leone Stars side must start with a big ambition.

The Leone Stars of Sierra Leone have been pitted in Group A in the race to the 34th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, set to be held in Ivory Coast next year.

Coach John Keister’s side will face three-time African champions Nigeria, Guinea Bissau, Sao Tome or Mauritius for a place in Ivory Coast 2023.

“We have to start better with a lot of ambition. Our start in the last qualifiers was poor, a disappointing draw against Lesotho at home and a defeat to Benin away. This time, we must do better the mentality of winning is a top priority,” the Manchester-born told FSL News from South Africa.

After 25 years of absence, the former Sierra Leone International guided the Leone Stars to their third Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon 2021 after a 1-0 triumph over Benin.

Sierra Leone was close to making the last sixteen in Cameroon but fell short by a missed Kei Kamara’s spot-kick against Equatorial Guinea last January at the Limbe Stadium.

“We’re going to respect every opponent, but at the same time, having a mindset to better our previous qualification statistics. It is no secret that every African nation has grown – no more big names in African football. We saw that in the just-concluded Afcon in Cameroon. 

‘We want to qualify again, so we must approach every game with the right attitude to get positive results from the start, but we know it’s never going to be an easy task regardless of who we start against.”

Connect with us, @football_sierra, on Facebook/ Instagram, Football Sierra Leone, the writer Alie Bittar on Twitter @bittar32, Email:

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