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Swedish coach reacts to Leone Stars defeat by Niger

Swedish coach reacts to Leone Stars defeat by Niger

Leone Stars head coach Lars Olof Mattsson has for the first time reacted to his team’s defeat at the hands of Niger in a 2012 African Cup of Nations group G qualifying match in Niamey last Sunday by taken full responsibility for loss.

The team conceded three goals within 25 minutes in second half to lose 3-1 after they had taken the lead in first half through Sweden-based Mohamed Bangaura alias Porbosky.

“I take full responsibility for Leone Stars defeat because I’m the head coach,” said Coach Mattsson, adding that “I’m disappointed and feel sorry for the players.”

“One of the reasons we conceded goals was because Umaru Bangura was substituted due to injury and also the referee was giving the host undue advantage.

It’s the worst referring I have witnessed as a coach. I think FIFA should change the rules by not allowing a referee who speaks the same language as the host country to officiate.”

Leone Stars were not only beaten but were also dominated in long periods of the match and hadn’t been for the good goalkeeping of Christian Caulker they should have lost by very big margin.

Coach Mattsson is full of praise for Christian Caulker and admitted that the host dominated play.

“We played well in the first 15 minutes of both halves and after which the host took over completely. The turning point for them was their first goal backed by the support from the crowd.

I agree that they took over the midfield completely particularly after they got their first goal but the referee was giving them unnecessary advantage. Caulker was very good in goal and I’m happy with his performance.”

The defeat means the Leone Stars now have slim chance of overtaking South Africa at the top of the group G to claim the automatic qualification spot in the group.

Coach Mattsson who was very optimistic before the Niger game has admitted that it will now be very difficult for Leone Stars to qualify to the finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

“Our chances are now slim to qualify and it’ll be difficult to make it to the finals but it’s not impossible. We need to win our two remaining home matches and the one away to South Africa and hope other results in the group favour us.

What I have learnt from the Niger game is that you should try very hard to win your home matches.”

But Coach Mattsson can only be in charge of Leone Stars’ remaining matches in the 2012 qualifiers if his contract is renewed as he was only contracted for the Niger game and was paid US 10,000 for his services.

The Swede said he wanted to be in charge of the remaining matches and also see through the team in 2014 World Cup qualifiers but after the defeat to Niger, it now remains to be seen if his contract will be extended.

By Mohamed Fajah Barrie in Freetown

Credit: SWASAL ,  Sponsors: Mercury International Ltd.

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