They gained the respect and admiration of TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations, Cameroon 2021 followers. Now it’s time for more.
Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea are eyeing a historic lace in the second round, which would be the first ever for Leone Stars and third in as many appearances for Nzalang Nacional.
Cote d’Ivoire lead the group on four points, one more than Equatorial Guinea. Sierra Leone (2 points) and Algeria (one) follow in that order.
Date: 20 January 2022
Time: 17:00 local time (16:00 GMT)
Venue: Limbe Stadium, Limbe
Match: Sierra Leone v Equatorial Guinea
Sierra Leone – A dream might come true
Returning to the Africa Cup of Nations after 26 years of absence, not so many expected Sierra Leone to impress at the ongoing TotalEnergies AFCON 2021.
But the Leone Stars surprised everyone by holding defending champions Algeria to a goalless draw, and to prove that was not a fluke, they did the same coming back from behind twice to force Cote d’Ivoire to another 2-2 draw.
Now they know a win over Equatorial Guinea in Limbe means they are through to the next round for the first time in their history.
What they said
John Keister (Coach, Sierra Leone)
This is a tight group. Our objective is to go through. The team spirit drives our team, we want to qualify. We adapt our strategy to the players we have, to play in an uninhibited way while respecting the opponent, a big team like Equatorial Guinea.
Steven Caulker (Defender, Sierra Leone)
Twenty-five years ago, a generation represented Sierra Leone well on the international stage. It is a source of pride for us to take over. We showed tactical discipline and braveness. I saw the images of celebration and popular jubilation in the country, that’s the magic of football, reconciling a whole country.
Equatorial Guinea – Striking again
After producing heroics to stop Algeria’s unbeaten 34-match series, Equatorial Guinea’s Nzalang Nacional look ready to strike again, this time against Sierra Leone.
After two home appearances (2012 and 2015), Equatorial Guinea reached AFCON for the first time through the qualifiers’ series. A lone goal defeat to Cote d’Ivoire was followed by the famous win over holders Algeria as the Equatoguineans acquired everyone’s respect and sympathy.
While a draw might see them waiting for a possible qualification as one of the best fourth placed sides, a win will definitely send Equatorial Guinea to the next round, a feat they achieved in each of their two previous AFCON appearances, where they even finished fourth in 2015.
What they said
Juan Micha Obiang (Coach, Equatorial Guinea)
We defeated Algeria, the best national team in Africa, but we will stay on earth. We will play against Sierra Leone, a brave team, and we will put all the chances on our side. What happens on the field is what counts. Our strength is the collective spirit. Each match has its story. We will fight with our means, a system of play, and ambition.
Emilio Nsue Lopez (Captain, Equatorial Guinea)
Football is sensational. We are proud of our journey so far, but to make the story inspiring, we must finish the job and qualify to the Round of 16. Beating champions of Africa is extraordinary, but nothing is worth without qualification for the second round.