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Furious Coach Mattsson reacts to Leone Stars 2013 Nations Cup exit

Furious Coach Mattsson reacts to Leone Stars 2013 Nations Cup exit thumbnail

Leone Stars coach Lars Olof Mattsson (in photo) has reacted to his team failure to qualify for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals following their goalless draw with Tunisia last Saturday.

The match was an AFCON final round second-leg encounter played at the 10,000 capacity Moustapha Ben Jannet Stadium in Monastir and it finished goalless in favour of Tunisia who qualified on the away goals rule as the first leg in Freetown ended 2-2 in September.

The 57-year old Swedish coach who was furious and disappointed said that the Mauritanian referee who was in charge of the match was wrong to send off one of his key defenders Gibril ‘Barel’ Sankoh and also disallowed Sheriff Suma’s goal.

Sankoh was sent off in the 25th minute of play reducing Leone Stars to ten men for the rest of the match. The decision appeared to be a harsh one taken by referee Lemghaifry Ali.

 “The referee never gave us chance in the game because we had to fight the Tunisian team away with ten men and that was very difficult,” Coach Mattsson told SWASAL.

“The red card given to Gibril Sankoh was absolutely wrong and nonsense because he was attacked by a striker who stripped him and kicked him.

Sankoh tried to avoid him and the Assistant referee gave the signal to the referee and that was disaster” explained the Swedish coach.

He added: “It is like it’s impossible to win away in African football. We scored a genuine goal through Sheriff Suma but it was disallowed. I’m very disappointed at the referees”.

“The match was very difficult as we played with ten men.  I’m satisfied with the performances of my players. Tunisia created chances but we also had some chances towards the end of the game. I was just waiting for set pieces from free kicks or corner kicks to score but we didn’t do it”.

Leone Stars singing the Sierra Leone national anthem before just the match started in Monastir (Photo Credit: SWASAL)

Tunisian players singing their country national anthem (Photo Credit: SWASAL)

The former Sweden U-21 national team coach believes that the first leg result in Freetown did no good to his team to book a place in 2013 AFCON finals.

“The outcome of the second leg shows that we got knocked out because of the first leg result in Freetown. It has cost us a Nations Cup place.

But that is football and I think we have a promising team. I can see a bright future for this team and we’ll have chance to revenge on Tunisia in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers next year.”

This is the second time within a year Leone Stars under the guidance of Coach Mattsson have came very close of qualifying to the AFCON finals.

Last year they needed a win in Nelspruit against Bafana Bafana to qualify for the 2012 finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea but it ended goalless.

Coach Mattsson is disappointed that he has failed in his second attempt to reach the AFCON finals but is pleased with his boys.

“I’m very disappointed to miss out of the Nations Cup for the second time within a year but I’m very proud of the players and my staff and everyone involved with the national team. I think it’s a promising team.

Tunisia who played the match without star player M’sakni Youssef dominated possession but were not able to make use of the numerical advantage. The determined Leone Stars defence were able to absorb pressure from all angles.

Goal Keeper Christian Caulker made three saves, one in the first half and two in the second period.

Leone Stars got three chances, all in the second half, one was scored by Azerbaijan based defender Sheriff Suma who poked in a cross from the right but was controversially disallowed by the referee to the annoyance of the players and officials.

USA based Kei Ansu Kamara tried to chip over the advancing Tunisian goalie Mathlouthi Aymen from the box but didn’t succeed before his header was saved on the goal line after hitting the post.

It was the fifth ever meeting between the two sides with Tunisia winning two, Sierra Leone winning one and there were two draws. Leone Stars are yet to score on Tunisian soil.

The two teams are in the same group in the 2014 World Cup finals and will meet twice next year with Tunisia hosting Sierra Leone in March and the return leg in Freetown in June.

Sierra Leone (Away)

Tunisia (Host

01 Christian Caulker (GK) 16, Mathlouthi Aymen (GK)
06, Ibrahim ‘Obreh’ Kargbo (Capt) 18, Boussaidi Anis (Capt)-Y.Card 21’
02 Mustapha Dumbuya 03 Hichri Walid (Out for no.3 9’)
11, Sheriff Suma-Y.Card 70’ 06, Gharbi Fateh
15, Gibril Sankoh- Red card 25’ 04, Abdennour Aymen
17, Umaru Bangura 05, Mouelhi Khaled
04, Mohamed ‘Medo’ Kamara –Y. Card 90+2’ 07, Saihi Jamel-Y.Card 29’ (Out for no.7 45’)
13, Alfred Sankoh (Outfor no.5 45’) 10, Darragi Oussama (Out for no.8 67’)
07, Samuel Barlay(Out for no.14 86’ 09, Harbaoui Hamdi
18, Kei Ansu Kamara 11, Khelifa Sabeur-Y.Card 48’
12, Gibrilla Woobay (Out for no.8 86 17, Jomaa  Issam- Y. Card 73’
16, Unisa Bangura (GK) 01, Bencheriha Moez (GK)
10, Mohamed Kallon 05, Dhaouadi Chamseddine
08, Alhassan Kamara 15, Dhaouadi Zouhaier
03, Ibrahim Koroma 08 Ben Hatira Anis-Y.Card 90+2’
14, Khalifa Jabbie 13, Hammami Chadi
09, Ibrahim Teteh Bangura 14, Traoui Majdi
05, Mohamed Bangura 12 Chammam Khalil
Coach: Lars Olof Mattsson (Swedish) Coach: Sami Trabelsi (Tunisian)
Ref:  Lemghaifry Ali (Mauritania)
AR1: Dia El Hassen (Mauritania)
AR2: Sall Abdoul Aziz (Mauritania)
RR: Hamada Mohamed (Mauritania)
MC: Saidou Diori Maiga (Niger)

By Mohamed Fajah Barrie in Monastir (Credit: SWASAL,      Sponsors: Mercury International)

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