After a long absence that lasted 25 years (1996 to 2021), Sierra Leone will return to the elite of African football for the TotalEnergies AFCON 2021. For this special occasion, head coach John Keister has named a provisional squad made of 40 Leone Stars.
Sierra Leonean football observers questioned on this great leap forward in their team, recall that there is “a series of concordant factors that have allowed this qualification ”, including a generation led among others by Anderlecht striker Mustapha Bunda.
About ten players among which, Bundu, Umuru Bangura (defender), Mohamed Nbalie Kamara (goalkeeper) and Augustin Williams (striker) form the backbone of this workforce having evolved together from U-17 to U-23.
The team narrowly missed qualifying for major tournaments, and during the 2021 AFCON Qualifiers, Sierra Leone managed to hold Nigeria (4-4 and 0-0), one of the top African teams.
And also the leaders of this generation evolve into professionals in Europe, which allows them to accumulate experience of a very high level.
The team is 60 percent professional. But players of the caliber of former Inter Milan (Italy) player Mohamed Kallon are rare.
In addition to their stars, there is a group that tends towards homogeneity with a manager, John Keister, former player of the national team.
Also, the Sierra Leonean technician has been deputy to the last two national coaches including Ghanaian Sellah Teteh. Besides the local technician has managed local clubs and has also led youth teams.
For the qualifiers, Sierra Leone which was in Group J also drew twice against Lesotho (1-1 and 0-0) and played 0-1 and 1-0 against Benin.
In the end, Leone Stars qualified with the same number of points (7 points) as Benin’s Squirrels, quarter-finalists of the previous edition in 2019 thanks “to a great motivation on the part of the government authorities”.
“Yes, the motives have been greatly revised upwards and that cannot be overlooked,” said the observers.
In this list, coach Keister called on defender Steven Caulker, who played in England Youth’s categories and Issa Kallon who played for the Netherlands in Youth’s teams.
This is the first call of both footballers with Sierra Leone.
Goalkeepers: Mohamed Nbalie Kamara (East End Lions), Ibrahim Sesay (East End Tigers), Isaac Caulker (FC Kallon), Mohamed Kanu (Nimba Kwado FC), Francis Koroma (Mighty Blackpool).
Defenders: Umuru Bangura (Neuchâtel, Switzerland), Daniel Francis (Bradford, England), David Sesay (Barnet England), Osman Kakay (QPR, England), Alie Sesay (Persebaya, Indonesia), Yeami Dunia (East End Lions), Abu Bakarr Samura (FC Kallon), Kevin Whrigh (Orebro, Sweden), Saidu Mansaray (Bo Rangers), Steven Caulker (Fenerbahçe, Turkey), Mustapha Dumbuya (free agent).
Midfielders: Kwame Quee (Vikingur Reijavik, Iceland), Rodney Strasser (TPS, Finland), Mohamed Kamara (Kuwait SC, Kuwaitt), Saidu Bah Kamara (Bo Rangers), John Bankole Kamara (Kesla FK, Azerbaijan), Khalifa Jabbie (Al Mina, Iraq), Alhassan Koroma (Linense, Spain), George Davies (St Pölten, Austria), Saidu Fofanah (Kallon FC), Abu Dumbuya (East End Lions), Emmanuel Samadia (Hapoel Umm Al-Fahm, Israel), Augustus Kargbo (FC Crotone, Italy), Issa Kallon (SC Cambuur, Netherlands), Prince Barrie (Bo Rangers FC).
Forwards: Musa Noah Kamara (free agent), Mustapha Bundu (Arhus, Denmark), Kei Ansu Kamara (Helsinki IFK, Iceland), Mohamed Buya Turay (Henan Songshan Longmen, China), Idriss Kanu (Peterborough, England), Christian Moses ( IFK Varnamo, Sweden), Augustine Williams (Los Angeles Galaxy, USA), Sulaiman Borbor Kai Kai (Wycombe Wanderers, England), Alhaji Kamara (Randers FC, Denmark).