April 1, 2016 By Sahr Morris Jr.
Sierra Leone national Youth U-20 team, Shooting Stars, will kick-start their bid to qualify for the 2017 African Youth Champions (AYC) in Zambia when they take on the Scorpions of Gambia on 2 April at the Wusum Mini Stadium in Makeni, northern Sierra Leone.
Coach Charlie Wright, who officially released his 23-man squad on Thursday before the team’s departure to Makeni, dismissed talks of pressure on his side due to Sierra Leone’s past result against the Gambia.
In an exclusive interview with Concord Sports, the former FC Kallon gaffer, in a confident mood ahead of Saturday’s clash said his boys were in good shape and well determined to face their Gambian opponent.
“We are not under any pressure despite playing at home. We are aware that in the last meeting in this competition the Gambians knocked us out of the tournament, but that is the past; we want to re-write things,” Wright said.
On the other hand, Gambia coach Omar Sise told Gambia Daily Observer Sports during their stop-over in Casablanca en-route to Sierra Leone that his boys were in shape ahead of the match.
“The boys are in good shape and doing well. We are now preparing to go for our dinner,” Sise told Observer Sports on Wednesday from Casablanca. Coach Sise traveled with 30 players as they seek their third qualification to the AYC tournament in Zambia.
The two countries will engage each other in are two legged tie, with the Gambia hosting the return leg in Banjul three weeks later on 23 April. The winner of the two legs clash will face Morocco in the second round for a place in the third and final round of the qualifiers.
The first meeting between the two sides ended in favour of the Gambians, who held Sierra Leone to a goalless draw in Freetown and went on to win 4-1 in the return leg on home soil during the 2011 qualifiers.