June 12, 2015 By: Sorie Ibrahim Sesay
Leone Stars caretaker coach, John Jebboh Sherrington, says his mission in Sunday’s 2017 AFCON qualifier against Sudan is to seek revenge for the 2-0 defeat Sierra Leone suffered in Freetown against the same opponent (Sudan) in a 2002 World Cup qualifier.
Speaking shortly before the commencement of his second training session at the Sudan Football Association academy field in Khartoum yesterday evening, the 63-year-old trainer and Technical Director admitted that the defeat still has some better memories in his mind, as well as many Sierra Leonean football fans.
“Though I was not the coach of Leone Stars then, I consider this match on Sunday as a perfect opportunity to seek revenge, which I believe I am capable of doing here in Khartoum,” he said in an upbeat mood regardless his opponents playing in front of their home fans. “The Sudanese are not extraordinary and can be beaten at home by any team. I want to use this match to put Sierra Leone in a vantage position to qualify for the tournament in Gabon.”
He added: “A thousand mile’s journey starts with a single step and I believe a win here will enhance our chances of qualifying to Gabon 2017.”
Coach Sherrington, however, admitted that he has no knowledge about his opponents.
“I watched some few clips of their last AFCON qualifiers against South Africa and Nigeria but I don’t think that is enough for me to say I know much about them. That notwithstanding, they are a good side and I have great respect for them,” he said.
Sherrington, who had had stints with the Leone Stars in 1995, 2006 and 2008, dismissed recent criticisms directed at him for selecting majority of home-based players in his squad.
“I took this decision because I want to give these boys an opportunity to excel.
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I have absolute confidence in them that they will deliver,” he said. “These are U-23 players who recently eliminated Cameroon in Yaoundé in the U-23 qualifiers, which surprised many Sierra Leoneans, and I am convinced they will do the same here. I have included few foreign based players that will make a perfect blend for this game to give me the result I need.”
The caretaker coach used the opportunity to respond to claims by the Sudanese media that their early arrival in Khartoum is to acclimatise to the hot weather condition and at the same time get information about his opponents.
“Those allegations are untrue. We only came here early because of the irregular flights schedules in Freetown,” said the veteran coach. “Many flights have ceased flying to Freetown because of the Ebola outbreak, so that is the reason why we decided to be here earlier and nothing else.”
Meanwhile, captain Umaru ‘Zaingalay’ Bangura and Mustapha ‘Haji’ Bangura are the latest foreign-based players to arrive in Sudan yesterday morning, bringing the total of professional prayers in coach Sherrington’s squad to three.
Leone Stars are in Group H alongside defending champions Cote D’Ivoire, Gabon and Sudan.