President Koroma rescues Leone Stars
By Sahr Morris Jnr.
President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, on Wednesday came to the rescue of the senior national team, Leone Stars ahead of their first round first leg African Nations Cup qualifier against Swaziland.
Earlier the team was expected to have departed the country last Tuesday but the trip was cancelled and deferred to Wednesday due to lack of funds. President Koroma’s intervention enabled the team to travel to Mbabane for the crunch encounter.
According to a close source in the Sports Ministry, President Koroma made some swift moves to secure the sum of Le500 million from the Finance Ministry, which enabled the team’s departure to Swaziland via Lagos and South Africa onboard Arik Air.
“The cost was well over the amount and because of that, the minister decided to reduce the number of delegation from 30 to 25. The Sports Minister and his deputy themselves refused to join the delegation because their travel cost would have been around US$8,000,” the source said.
Until their departure on Wednesday, the official delegation was not released on time by the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA), but it was confirmed that Executive Committee member Morrison Sannoh and Director of Competition, Sorie Ibrahim Sesay were part of the delegation, which also includes the acting Director of Sports, Alphan Coker.
Meanwhile, the match will now play on Sunday instead of Saturday, and according to the Swazi Observer, the match will not be on live screen, especially the Swazi TV.
Swaziland National Football Association (SNFA) CEO, Frederick Mngomezulu, said Swazi TV will not screen the match because they do not have power over screening of such games as it falls in the lap of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
“Television rights in this case are controlled by CAF and usually they select matches they wish to screen and send their contracted television station, which is usually Studio Five to screen it. They then send a correspondence to the hosting member association on the needed things but in Sunday’s game, nothing has come forth from CAF,” Mngomezulu said.