The Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) in collaboration with the Cameroon Organizing Committee has on Tuesday August 17 in a flamboyant theatrical display, successfully concluded the draw for the 33rd edition of the continent’s biggest football festival in Yaoundé, Cameroon and Sierra Leone has been placed to share Group E with defending champions Algeria, Equatorial Guinea which, like Sierra Leone, makes its third appearance to the tournament and two times champions Cote D’Ivoire which shows up for the 25th time.
This placement has been perceived by many Sierra Leoneans, at home and abroad, as throwing the Nation in the lion’s den, consequently sparking a barrage of pessimistic and sarcastic comments across social media and other platforms. Most of these comments express lack of hope in the Country’s National Team for making it past the group stage.
Sierra Leone had been to two editions of the Nations Cup (1994 and 1996) and on both occasions the Country couldn’t make it to the second rounds and apparently some Sierra Leoneans think this is not going to be any different.
This arrant pessimism seems to have caused the recently appointed Team Manager Babadi Kamara to express dissatisfaction and make a passionate plea to all Sierra Leoneans both home and abroad to “believe, trust and have confidence in the Nation despite sharing group with the tournament’s defending champions Algeria and two times Champions Cote D’ivoire. We respect our opponents but at the same time we will sternly refuse to be seen as a pushover”.
”The draw is out, the group is tough but it means now that we have to go to work and work even harder both in and out of the pitch to ensure the best preparation possible. We sprung surprises against teams like Nigeria during the qualifiers, there’s nothing stopping us now from doing even better in the tournament proper”. TM Babadi added.
Recounting his experience with some of the African Football legends who were invited for the draw in Yaoundé, the Leone Stars Team Manager said, “When asked about their impressions about the upcoming tournament, El Hadji Diouf, Regobert Song, Asamoah Gyan and Didier Drogba all said awesome things to hail their respective countries. This by all indications is what patriotism is truly about and believing in oneself is the greatest strength anyone should wish for”.
As Leone Stars’ build up to the TotalEnergies AFCON Cameroon 2021 intensifies, the Sierra Leone Football Association continues engagement with several countries in and out of Africa for possible friendly matches in the upcoming ordinary and FIFA calendar dates. The following have been confirmed so far; 26th August in Ethiopia and the 29 to 31 August for a 4-Nation tournament in DR Congo during which Sierra Leone is expected to compete with South Sudan, Congo Brazzaville and the host Nation DR Congo.