Leone Stars set to eliminate Sihlangu
By Sahr Morris Jnr.
The Sierra Leone national team, Leone Stars will look forward to eliminate the Sihlangu Semnikati of Swaziland from the 2015 African Cup of Nations campaign when they host their Southern African opponents in the return leg match at the National Stadium in Freetown on Saturday.
This fixture ended in a 1-1 draw when the two sides met a fortnight ago at the Somhlolo National Stadium in Manzini and it was their first ever meeting in the history of football.
Unlike the first leg in Swaziland which saw the Leone Stars suffering from poor preparations with just a training season in Manzini, it is a different scenario for the return leg as the team had engaged in four days training at the National Stadium with the arrival of few players who missed the first leg.
Coach Johnny Mckinstry welcomed goalkeeper Christian Caulker, right-back David Simbo, midfielders Rodney Strasser and Mohamed ‘Medo’ Kamara – who all missed the first leg in Swaziland. However, the gaffer is still short of options in attack as Middleborough striker Kei Kamara is the only experienced player to lead the attack. He may possibly be joined by Kamboi Eagles youngster Fayia Koba.
Sweden-based trio, defender Ibrahim ‘Marcel’ Koroma, and strikers Albert Kargbo and Alhassan ‘Crespo’ Kamara will miss Saturday’s clash due to injuries and club commitments, while China-based defender Gibril Sankoh is still refusing to honour further call-ups from the Irish coach.
However, coach Mckinstry is looking forward to a successful match on Saturday and expressed his confidence that his squad will carry the day. He said: “It is not going to be an easy match because they have their own style but I believe we are at home and can make use of our chances.”
On the lack of striking options, the coach believed the team still has the ability to overcome their opponents and that he will use a central strike with support from the wings.
On the other hand, Swaziland – who has not won an official match since they defeated Togo in 2008 – could miss right-back Sifiso Maseko and Sabelo Gamedze as they are both sweating to overcome injuries.
Swaziland, over 100 places below Sierra Leone in the FIFA world ranking, are looking forward to pull a surprise in Freetown and coach Harries ‘Madze’ Bulunga believed they can get something from the match.