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Page added on October 11, 2012
Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles will play host to the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone in an Africa Cup of Nations final round qualifying match at the 10,000 capacity Moustapha Ben Janette Stadium in Monastir at 19:15 local time (18:15 GMT) on Saturday October 12th. (Photo: Leone Stars players in training in Tunis preparing for Tunisia (Photo Credit: Mohamed Fajah Barrie)
At stake is a place for the AFCON finals in South Africa commencing in two months time. Tunisia stand a better chance of qualifying following their 2-2 draw with Sierra Leone in the first leg game in Freetown last month.
But Leone Stars are determined to prove bookmakers and critics wrong as they want to make history by qualifying for Africa’s premier football competition after 17-year absent.
The players and the technical team are very serious in training and there is oneness and discipline in the camp at the El Mouradi Hotel in Monastir.
The team arrived in Monastir on Wednesday night after three days in Tunis ahead of the all important encounter.
Veteran star striker Mohamed Kallon is the only player among the current squad that was part of the Leone Stars team that last represented Sierra Leone at the Nations Cup finals. He scored the winning goal against Burkina Faso that gave the West African country their only victory so far at the Nations Cup finals.
There are no injury worries in the Leone Stars camp as all the 21 invited players have reported for duty and they are currently in Monastir preparing for the game.
Azerbaijan based Gibrilla Woobay, Ibrahim Teteh Bangura who is playing in Turkey and the Sweden based duo of Mohamed ‘Poborsky’ Bangura, and Ibrahim ‘Marcel’ Koroma were the last batch of players to arrive to complete the number of foreign-based players in the Leone Stars camp in Monastir to 18.
Portsmouth right back Mustapha Dumbuya is expected to make his first international appearance on Saturday and he’ll bring more life in to the Leone Stars defence.
Nigerian born Victor Kayode who the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) says he’s now eligible to play for Leone Stars may start on the bench.
The Carthage Eagles Coach Sami Trabelsi has 27 players including 11 foreign-based to select his team from. Among them are six players from top African club Esperance Sportive du Tunis and five from rival club Etoile Sportive du Shahel.
Like Leone Stars, the Tunisian players are free from injuries and star player M’sakni Youssef who was very impressive in the first leg in Freetown is expected to be in the starting XI.
Leone Stars at least need to score two goals and concede not less than the same number of goals if they are to have any chance of making it to the finals in South Africa.
A goalless draw or 1-1 draw is enough for the Tunisians to go through on the away goals rule.
This is the third time Leone Stars have been in similar situation to qualify for the Nations Cup finals since the 1996 version in South Africa.
The team played their last match in the 2004 qualifiers in Libreville against Gabon’s Azingo Nationale and needed a win to qualify for the finals but lost 2-0.
Last year they also needed a victory in Nelspruit against Bafana Bafana to reach 2012 finals but played to a goalless draw and they have found themselves in the same situation. Will they be third time lucky? Only the 90 minutes will tell.
Tunisia have an edge over Sierra Leone as the two sides have met four times before with the former winning two, drew one and lost one.
Sierra Leone have scored three goals in all and conceded six whilst Tunisia have registered five goals and conceded three.1987: 1988 Olympic Games qualifiers: Sierra Leone 1-0 Tunisia 1987: 1988 Olympic Games qualifiers: Tunisia 2-0 Sierra Leone 1996: 1996 Nations Cup qualifiers: Tunisia 2-0 Sierra Leone 2012: 2013 Nations Cup qualifiers: Sierra Leone 2-2 Tunisia
Alhassan Kamara (Crespo) said, even though their mission in Tunisia is to “clinch the three point”, they are also prepared to accept whatever outcome.
Mohamed Medo Kamara pointed out that, success is not easy to achieve. “But with oneness and determination, we can do it”, he maintained.
Ibrahim Obreh Kargbo strongly stated that they have come to revenge as they have nothing to lose in this all important away match.
Umaru Zingalay Bangura expressed their commitment in trying to break the deadlock of seventeen years of absenteeism from the African Cup of Nations tournament.
Victor Kayode “It has been my dream for my début for Sierra Leone to be of a remarkable history to the country, and I am looking forward towards that”.
Gibrilla Wobay stressed that it will be tough playing a decisive match away against an ambitious team. “But the ninety minute will judge,”he concluded.
Gibril Sankoh maintained that winning this match is a feather to their caps at their respective clubs by qualifying for the African Cup of Nations 2013 in South Africa.
Kei Ansu Kamara “My colleagues have said it all its only left with how to implement it”, he re-iterated.
Samuel Ballay said, they should be ready to fight to finish and try to overcome whatever humiliation they might face in the course of victory.
Khalifa Jabbie maintained that their ambition is to qualify to the AFCON where they hope to attract scouts from bigger clubs in Europe.
Ishmael Koroma said they are warriors representing the country and are therefore determined to fight to finish.
Sherrif Suma boasted that he wants to dedicate the victory to his birthday which falls on the eve of the match.
Mohamed Kallon calls for peace and unity amongst the players which he said is a prerequisite to their victory.
Christian Caulker calls for spiritual and moral partnership with the team ahead of the match on Saturday.
Mohamed ‘Poborsky’ Bangura: I want to assure the people of Sierra Leone that we’ll do our best and they should believe on us. They should give us their fullest support. We are asking them to remember us in their prayers and we’ll try to give out our best. We know the importance of the match and what it means for us, the only way out is for us to win. We are working towards that because we want to be part his history by qualifying Leone Stars to AFCON finals.
Ibrahim ‘Marcel’ Koroma: It’s a difficult match for us but we are going to do our best to get a positive result. We know we are the underdogs but we are determined to fight to finish. We believe we can do it and all we are asking from our people back home is their prayers and positive thinking. We know the expectations are very high and we’ll try to do our best to live up to their expectations.
By Mohamed Fajah Barrie in Monastir (Credit: SWASAL Sponsors: Mercury International)
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