Bolton Wanderers striker Amadou Bakayoko accounted for his first international goal in the 30th-minutes assisted by FC Johanan defender Lamin Conteh as Sierra Leone defeated Liberia at the Mardan Stadium on Sunday.
Head Coach John Keister made eight changes to the squad that lost to Togo in the opening match on Thursday as he tried to evaluate his new team.
This tie gets off to a fast start between the two West African neighbours as both teams come into the contest back of a defeat. Liberia suffered a 4-0 hammering to Benin while Sierra Leone succumbed to a 3-0 beating to Togo.
After a couple of half-chances in the opening 25-minutes, Leone Stars’ broke the deadlock with a decent cross from Lamin Conteh, that found the head of the big striker who converted his first goal in his second appearance for Sierra Leone.
Leone Stars took a goal lead into the second half, and after the restart, Liberia came on stronger well-composed, playing some good passing football as they tried to restore parity, but the Sierra Leone defence stood firm to register their first win.
Changes Yeami Dunia out for Demba Kamara 45th, Alie Conteh in for Amadou Bakayoko, Issa Kallon in for Augustus Kargbo, Kamil Conteh replaced Jonathan Morsay in the 63rd minutes. Kevin Wright injured was replaced with Alex Bangura in the 79th minute.
The result means a second defeat for English-man Peter Butler’s side in Turkey as he hailed the Sierra Leone resilient.
“I want to congratulate Sierra Leone for a tough encounter – it is refreshing to see Sierra Leone bringing so many young lads from England,” he said during his post-match interview.
“In games like this, we played them to identify talent in the process of building a new squad, but I was proud of my players’ effort.” It was great to see Sierra Leone trying to play good football first half was even, but we played better in the second half.”
Coach Keister was pleased but admitted it was a tough game.
“I think it was a difficult game, but we are both in the same direction in the process of identifying players. At times is not about winning. I am happy for the team and Amadou Bakayoko because this will give him confidence moving forward.”
“Introducing some of these new lads around African football temperament, how to cope with that, is never easy. However, there is a lot of positive looking at the feature.”
Sierra Leone will wrap up their friendly games against Congo Brazzaville on the 29th of March while Liberia takes on Burundi on the same day.
SLFA Media in Antalya, Turkey.
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