Former Sierra Leone skipper and Cup of Nations ambassador Mohamed Kallon is optimistic that the Leone Stars will produce the result needed to make the round of sixteen.
A win for Sierra Leone will almost ensure their place in the tournament round of sixteen for the first time in history. Sierra Leone’s only Cup of Nations victory was a 2-1 win over Burkina-Faso at the Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, South Africa 1996. John Gbassay Sessay 11′ and Mohamed Kallon 89′ accounted for the goals.
Kallon is aware that resilient Leone Stars must put in a top-notch performance like the Algeria game to end the Les Éléphants of Ivory Coast unbeaten run against Sierra Leone.
The kickoff at the 50,000-capacity all-seater Japoma Stadium is at 16 MGT + 1 on Sunday in the Japoma locality in Douala.
Speaking to Football Sierra Leone cameras, he said, “We are here to ensure the team is well prepared for top matches, and I am optimistic that this team has the potential to progress to the round of sixteen.”
The former Monaco striker, who is in Douala in the capacity as Afcon ambassador to Leone Stars, reiterated that the team is well balanced.
“90% per cent of the players are young, which means they’re going to serve the national team for a long time. As we all noticed from their first match against Algeria, they played as if they played in the tournament before with confidence and composure, and i think if we have to work with the strength of the team, that will allow us to hurt any team.”
He also acknowledged the importance of the support-technical team appointed by the SLFA. The likes of Lamin Conteh, Lamin Bangura, his elder brother Keimokai Kallon.
“I was pleased with the appointment of the support team, the Lamin Bangura, Keimokai Kallon and Lamin Conteh to share their experience and to help condense the pressure on the team.”
Kallon recalled playing against Burkina Faso noted that this team played well as compared to their triumph at the Bloemfontein, South Africa 1996.
“If you go back to my time, our first performance against Burkina-Faso, you cannot compare to this performance against Algeria. The lads played well, well organised, well-disciplined.
Those days, things were a little bit different. This current team, based on the exposure of the players, and on what they have shown so far looking at the table and statistics, if we can have a point or our prime objective, game day objective is to win against Ivory Coast, which is possible because I saw their team. If we can take the game to Ivory Coast, we can get something out of this game.”
Here is what coach John Keister had to say in Saturday’s briefings
“I think we very comfortable around which way we wanted to go. I think we can get something out of the Ivory Coast game. Ivory Coast is not going to be any different. Football is on the day, and that is the motivation, guys.”
“It’s going to be a difficult game, but If we want to get better as a coach as a footballing nation, we have to play against the better teams, and that is how we have to test ourselves and see where we are, as a nation.”
Keister was pleased with how former International Steven Can have adapted quickly into his squad.
He emphasised that records are meant to be broken when responding to a question of Ivory Coast unbeaten run against Sierra Leone.
When asked about any injury concerns, Keister noted, they will come out with injuries news, if any, at the right time. It is very difficult when you access players. We have a match tomorrow – we have to give ourselves time. We are very mindful.
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