Senegal FC win Salone 51st Independence Anniversary Soccer Tournament in Maryland
A week long festivities commemorating Sierra Leone’s 51st independence anniversary in major US cities culminated with abundant exuberance.
In Atlanta, Brooklyn, Dallas, Laurel, Somerset and Los Angeles Sierra Leoneans hosted picnics, Gala Dances, Flag-Raising ceremonies and Soccer Tournaments. Aside from the Gala Dances, Save Sierra Leone Foundation a non-profit organization based in Laurel, Maryland in collaboration with Sierra America Soccer Association tournament was an absolute standout.
SASA organizers say approximately 300 spectators attended the tournament’s preliminary matches played on Saturday, April 28, 2012 with each game lasting for 40 minutes respectively. And at least, 400 people showed up for the Quarter Finals, Semi finals and Finals which were played on Sunday, April 30th, 2012.
Tournament champions Senegal FC led Group B by defeating New Jersey FC 2-1 and thrashing Greenbelt FC 2-0 to qualify for the quarter finals. They took a monumental step after a goaless draw in the finals to thump Liberian Screaming Eagles 3 -1 in penalty kicks.
Though, 13 teams including Debamu FC, FC Tiger, Celebrity Eleven, Mighty Blackpool, Team United, Freetownians, Senegal, Greenbelt FC, New Jersey FC, Sierra Delta, Screaming Eagles (Liberian) and Opopo FC (Camerounian) were originally scheduled to participate however, 3 teams Mighty Blackpool, Team United and Henry Johnson’s Freetownians were no shows.
The games were randomly divided into 3 divisions – Debamu FC, FC Tiger and Celebrity Eleven in Team A. While Senegal FC, Greenbelt FC, New Jersey FC and Freetownians (no show) in Group B and Virginia based Sierra Delta, Screaming Eagles (Liberian), Guinea FC and Opopo FC (Camerounian) in Group C.
Lead tournament organizer Mr. Isaac Kamara who was in charge of scheduling the fixtures and coordinating the teams said the tournament qualifiers were designated based on points, goals in favor, goals against and head to head matches.
Two qualifiers from Group A: Debamu and FC Tigers; 3 qualifiers from Group B: Senegal, Greenbelt FC, New Jersey FC and 3 qualifiers from Group C proceeded to the Quarter Finals.
Guinea eliminated FC Tigers 3 – 2 by penalty kicks to proceed to the Semi-Finals while Screaming Eagles struck out New Jersey FC 4 – 2 also by penalty after a goal less draw. New Jersey were supposed to have been eliminated but they somehow ended playing in the semi-finals.
According to Mr. Kamara, earlier during the day New Jersey FC was supposed to play Sierra Delta and because they were not on time to play therefore points were taken from them Sierra Delta based in neighboring Virginia.
“Dede Abu – one of the organizers took it upon himself to call the game in New Jersey’s favor in the absence of the designated referee in charge. Dede Abu has no mandate to intervene as he was not part of the referee committee and he is not even a qualified referee,” Mr. Kamara said.
After a goal less draw, New Jersey FC missed 3 goals to lose their semi-finals to Screaming Eagles 4 – 2. Senegal earned a spot at the finals with a 3 -2 victory in penalty kicks over Guinea after a 1 -1 draw.
In the final championship game on Sunday, Screaming Eagles held Senegal to a goal less draw but Senegal emerged victorious with a disheartening 3 -1 win to clinch the trophy.
Sierra Leone Embassy to the United States of America, the tournament’ sponsor awarded Senegal the championship trophy including $2,000 in cash prizes.
After Sunday’s tournament, some of the team managers say they will embark on rigorous soccer practices right away for the upcoming 2012 Annual Sierra Leone Interstate Soccer Tournament scheduled to commence in Maryland on Saturday & Sunday, September 1 & 2 during Labor Day – weekend, which they promised will be more thrilling than the 51st independence anniversary soccer tournament.
By Dennis Kabatto, USA
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