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Match Preview:

Sierra Leone versus Cameroon

OCTOBER 10, 2014 By Shar Morris Jr.

The battle for qualification to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco will continue this weekend and in midweek with African nations in contention for a place in the finals.

The Sierra Leone national team, Leone Stars, is amongst 10 others including seven-time Africa champions Egypt, who are in danger of being knocked out of the qualifiers after just three of the six qualifying matches played. This is expected to be a do or die weekend for many teams who seek nothing but all three points.

Sierra Leone, Egypt, Lesotho, Botswana, Togo, Angola, Ethiopia and Sudan need maximum points if they are to secure any hopes of remaining in the qualifying campaign as challengers and not as teams making up the numbers in the group. But unlike others, it seems as if disgrace is looming over the West Africa nation of Sierra Leone who has been forced to host their home matches in neutral/foreign grounds due to the deadly Ebola virus which continues to ravage the country.

Leone Stars will host the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon – the currently Group D leaders with six points from two matches – at the Omnisports Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaoundé, but Sierra Leone’s preparation for this match has been marred by lots of off-pitch battles between the Sports Ministry and the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) over the appointment of a coach.

The ministry has appointed Atto Mensah and John Sama as coach and assistant, whilst the Football Association, on the other hand, has appointed John Ajina Sesay and Abdulai Kaloga Bah. And on to press time yesterday (Thursday) both technical teams were in Cameroon, thus it is unclear who will be in charge of Saturday’s match.

Meanwhile, the off-pitch battle for supremacy does not seem to be affecting the players, and according to captain Umaru ‘Zingalay’ Bangura, they are determined to play their game and get a result. He said: “For sure this is not an ideal situation to play under but we are focusing on our game and do our best to produce the result we want.”

However, the team will be without striker Kei Kamara – who scored the Leone Star’s only goal in their 2-1 defeat to Ivory Coast – whilst China-based defender, Gibrill Sankoh again turned down an invitation to play for the country.

The good news for the team is that they will welcome back Cyprus-based striker Mustapha ‘Haji’ Bangura, former Watford midfielder Alhassan Bangura and debutant Alie Sesay from Leicester City, whilst captain Bangura will make his return after missing the 2-0 defeat to DR Congo due to injury.

Bangura’s defensive pair, David Simbo, will miss Saturday’s action due to suspension, but he’s expected to return for the return leg on Wednesday.

This will mark the third meeting between the two sides, with Cameroon winning one game 1-0 while the other ended 1-1.

Cameroon coach Volker Fike has urged his side to ignore history and not to underrate their opponents, and believes a win will relieve the pressure off his side and take them within sight of the 2015 finals.

However, coach Fike will be without defenders Brice Nlate Ekongolo of Marseille B and Frank Bagnack of Barcelona B, but has replaced them with locals Franck Essombo of Astres Douala and Landry Tabi Manga of Apejes de Mfou.

Meanwhile, the Indomitable Lions will rely on attacking duo of Vincent Aboubaker and Clinton Ndie, who have three goals each as they look to add to their goals tally against a porous Leone Stars backline that has conceded four goals so far.

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