By Sah Morris Jnr.
The opening matches in the Sierra Leone Premier League have been canceled due to the state funeral of the late former president of Sierra Leone, Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.
According to the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) Communications Officer, John Konteh, the tournament was planned to kick-off last Saturday but had to be rescheduled as a result of the funeral ceremony of the late president. The league is now planned to kick-off on Wednesday.
“Due to the nationwide involvement in the funeral rites of our immediate past President and Head of State, during the weekend, the Premier League Board (PLB) is caused to defer all league matches to a later date. The league kicks off on Wednesday March 26,” reads a statement from the PLB scribe.
Champions Diamond Stars could have hosted Kamboi Eagles of Kenema in Kono in their first Sierra Leone Premier League match under new coach Derrick Boison, while last season’s runners-up, the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) FC, could have entertained FC Kallon on the same day in Makeni.
Meanwhile, Diamond Stars – who controversially won last season’s hugely boycotted league, were handed difficult opening four matches in the fixtures. They will travel to Tongo to face bitter rivals Gem Stars on March 26, before hosting East End Lions in Kono four days later on March 30.
The champions will then travel to Freetown to face Central Parade on April 5 and then host Ports Authority on April 9.
The other opening matches of the season will see Bo Rangers hosting Gem Stars in Bo, while Freetown City FC will battle against Ports Authority at the Attouga mini-sports complex, Cline Town.
Anti-Drugs Strikers will host Central Parade at Newton, and at the SLFA grounds, Old Edwardians will take on Mighty Blackpool. FC Johansen will host East End Lions at the National Stadium.