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Leone Stars ready for The Walias test

September 7, 2018

By Sahr Morris Jnr

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Leone Stars in training session in Ethiopia

After getting off to a flying start with a 2-1 home win over Kenya in Freetown in June 2017, Sierra Leone campaign for another Nations Cup appearance look set to face another difficult test with Ethiopia as their next opponent.

Leone Stars of Sierra Leone hopes of having a qualifying stake in Group F is so much keen on Sunday’s clash against the Walias of Ethiopia at the at the Hawassa City International Stadium.

Coach John Keister’s preparation has been hit a little bit with the unexpected pull-out of his rock solid and experience skipper Umaru Zangally Bangura, who for the first time in many games, will be out of action for the country due to injuries.

The former Sierra Leone midfielder received another blow after FC Sheriff Striker, Alhaji Kamara and newly recruited Coventry City striker Amadou Bakayoko all pulled-out from his squad.

However, there was some positive news for the tactician’s who could have former IFK Frej defender, Alie Sesay, as a possible replacement for the injured skipper, Bangura.

Sesay returned to the Sierra Leone squad during last month’s international goalless draw with the Lone Stars of Liberia and his outstanding display saw him as a possible replacement for Bangura.

Despite the no show of Alhaji Kamara and Amadou Bakayoko, coach Keister could still be having headache in selecting his striking options with the likes of informed veteran strikers, Kei Kamara, Christian Moses and Mohamed Buya Turay.

Also newly signed Panetolikos forward Alhassan Crespo Kamara and Sheka Fofonah would be returning to the squad giving coach more striking options.

“Considering the standing, I would love to get a perfect result in Ethiopia which will be good for us in terms of keeping our hopes alive of reaching Cameroon 2019,” said head coach John Keister.

“Having said that, we need to be very focus and ensure we have what we want from this match. It is not going to be easy for us especially after they have lost their opening match against Ghana but I believe we have the team for the challenge.”

Sierra Leone are seen as the favourite going in Sunday’s clash considering their power ranking above the Walias in both FIFA and CAF but the newly recruited Ethiopia coach, Abraham Mebratu, wants to turn things around after their 5-0 defeat to Ghana.

Mebratu,who recently named his 23 man squad for the Group F encounter against Sierra Leone and Kenya dropped notable goalie Abel Mamo, playmaker Tafese Solomon and defender Addis Tesfaye.

However, Ethiopian U-20 national side custodian Tsion Merede was a surprise inclusion,while veteran forward Getaneh Kebede and experienced duo, Behailu Assefa and Samson Assefa all made the final cut .

He said: “For now we can only look after players with international game experience and exposure. It is a process so we will be calling up other new faces in the future. For the upcoming two decisive fixtures against Sierra Leone and Kenya, we will stick with this squad.”

This will mark the first meeting between the two sides as the Walias are pointless after a 5-0 loss to Ghana in Kumasi in June 2017. Sierra Lone are with three points after beating Kenya 2-1 in Freetown.

Goalkeepers: Solomon Zombo Morris (FC Rodeo, France), Alhaji Sesay, (Bristol City England), Mohamed N Kamara (FC Johansen)

Defenders: Kemson Fofonah, David Simbo (Kiremithane Spor Turkey), Hassan Milla Sesay (FC Lathi, Finland), Abu Suma (Unattached) Osman Kakay (QRR, England), Alie Sesay (AOX Kissamikos Greece) and Yeami Dunia (Standard FC).

Midfielders: Mohamed Medo Kamara (Kuwait SC, Kuwait), Alfred Sankoh (Al-Jabalain, Saudi Arabia), Michael Lahoud FC Cincinnati, USA), (John Kamara FC Kaisar Kazakhstan) and Julius Wobay Unattached)

Attackers: Kei Kamara Vancouver Whitecaps Canada, Alhassan Kamara BK Hacken Sweden, Ibrahim Conteh PSIS FC, Malaysia, Kwame Quee UMF Vikingur, IcelandIcel, Mohamed Buya Turay Sint Truiden Belgium, Sheka Fofanah Al-Nasr Oman, Christian Moses Viborg FF Danmark.

 

Ethiopia Squad

Goalkeepers: Samson Assefa (Dire Dawa City), Tekelemariam Shanko (Hawassa City), Tsion Merede (ArbaMinch City)

Defenders: Abdulkerim Mohammed, Asechalew Tamene, Henok Adugna, Salahdin Bargicho (all from Saint George), Anteneh Tesfaye (Dire Dawa City), Mujib Kassim, Amsalu Tilahun (both from Fasil Kenema), Ahmed Reshid (Ethiopian Coffee)

Midfielders: Mulualem Mesfin, Natnael Zeleke, Behailu Assefa (all from Saint George), Gatoch Panom (El Gouna, Egypt), Shemeles Bekele (Petrojet, Egypt), Biniyam Belay (Skënderbeu Korçë, Albania), Amanuel Yohannes (Ethiopian Coffee)

Forwards: Getaneh Kebede, Abel Yalew (both from Saint George), Omod Okuri (Smouha SC, Egypt), Dawa Hotessa (Adama City), Addis Gidey (Sidama Coffee)