Sierra Leone’s Leone Stars kick-off their 2023 African Cup of Nations qualifying preparation with a 3-0 defeat to their Togolese counterpart on Thursday evening in Turkey.
At the Mardan Sports Complex in Aksu Antalya, Turkey, John Keistrer’s new looks side were better in the opening exchanges. Bolton’s striker Amadou Bakayoko came close twice with his half chances. The two teams started brilliantly with energy in an entertaining opening 15-minutes.
Togo had a chance to go ahead through their striker Kevin Denkey, but Mohamed Kamara in goal for Sierra Leone was attentive.
Both sides played to a goalless first half as the Leone Stars new-look young and energetic impress in the opening 45-minutes. However, the second half exploded with three goals for the Togolese.
Paulo Duarte’s side took control of the tie after they scored a direct free-kick through Euloge Placca in the 48-minute. He completed his double from outside the area after his strike fine the back of the net in the 51st minute to further dampen the Leone Stars spirit.
Sierra Leone pushed forward to get a goal of their own, but debutant Winston Ceesay made a costly error. Guillaume Yenoussi capitalised on Ceesay’s lost ball to score their third.
A total of seven new players were part of the Leone Stars’ first test match. East End Lions’ in-form striker Alie Conteh replaced Alusine Koroma to make his Sierra Leone debut.
In his post-match interview, John Keister says his side conceded easy goals from individual mistakes.
Changes made – Alie Conteh in for Alusine Koroma, Augustus kargbo in for Issa Kallon, Emmanuel Samadia in for Jonathan Morsay in the 70th-minute before Winston Ceesay replaced Ibrahim Sillah.
Sierra Leone will face Liberia on Sunday and Congo Brazaville on Tuesday in their remaining two friendly International.
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