January 16, 2017 By Sahr Morris Jnr
Sierra Leone Football Association Director of competition, Sorie Ibrahim Sesay, has reacted positively after the African football governing; CAF, announced the draw of the 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifiers.
According to Sesay, the draw was fine for Sierra Leone compared to the previous draws. He said: “This is the simplest draw for us compared to previous years, even though the group has two former African champions; Ghana and Ethiopia.”
Sesay, who is known as Africa football expert, believed with adequate preparations, Sierra Leone could spring surprise like Guinea Bissau did to qualify for the 2017 tournament in Gabon.
“This draw is within our reach to make it to Cameroon with better preparations. Our first match is against Kenya at home and we can start with a good result and our last match that could have a say in the group will be at home against Ethiopia. It has been a different story previous years, so it is up to us to have better preparation and go for it,” Sesay said.
Sierra Leone national team, Leone Stars was drawn alongside the Black Stars of Ghana, the Walia ibex of Ethiopia and the Harambee Stars of Kenya in Group F of the 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifiers.
The four nations would be expected to battle for the only qualifying spot as one of the best three teams from all the 12 groups to join the host nations, Cameroon for the 2019 African football showpiece.
Ghana were named as top seeds before the draw was made and now has to deal with the unpredicted Leone Stars side, hot altitude of Ethiopia and the strength of Kenya.
According to the African Football governing body, CAF, unlike the qualifiers of the 31st edition of Total Africa Cup of Nations, all matches of the host team will count leading to three scenarios:
“If the host team (Cameroon) is the winner of the group, the runner-up will automatically qualify to the final tournament. No other team will be eligible to qualify from this group.
“Also, if the host team (Cameroon) is the runner-up of the group, only the winner of the group will qualify to the final tournament. Finally, if the host team (Cameroon) is either in 3rd or 4th place, the winner of the group qualifies to the final tournament and the runners-up will be eligible to qualify as one of the best runners-up.”
The road to Cameroon will kick-off on the week of 20-28 March, 2017 for the first and second leg preliminary round, while the group matches will kick-off the week of 05-13 June, 2017 and the rest of other matches will be played in 2018, with the final group matches on November 5-13, 2018.