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Tunisia dent Sierra Leone’s hope of qualifying to the Nations Cup

Tunisia dent Sierra Leone’s hope of qualifying to the Nations Cup

Leone Stars twice gave away their lead to draw with Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles 2-2 in a 2013 Africa Cup of Nations final round first leg qualifying match at the National stadium in Freetown on Saturday.   (Photo:  Leone Stars line-up against Tunisia.  Photo credit: Ibrahim Y Sillah)

The stadium was jam packed and President Ernest Bai Koroma dressed in blue track suit was in attendance to give a boost to the Leone Stars.

The result has severely dented Sierra Leone’s hopes of reaching their first Nations Cup finals since 1996.

Tunisia Line-up (Photo credit Ibrahim Y Sillah)

It was Leone Stars worst performance in recent times at home as they were clearly dominated in terms of ball possession.

Azerbaijan-based Sheriff Suma gave Leone Stars the lead after only seven minutes after he capitalised on a poor clearance by a Tunisian midfielder to fire home with a left-footed shot from the box.

Sheriff Suma scoring opening goal (Photo credit Ibrahim Y Sillah)

Few minutes later Leone Stars threatened to increase their lead when striker Ibrahim Teteh Bangura’s header from a corner-kick taken by Gibrilla Woobay was saved by the Tunisian goalie Mathlouthi Aymen to end their dominance in the game.

However, Leone Stars held that advantage until midway through the second period completely dominated by the visitors and it came as no surprise when they leveled things in the 65th minute.

Left winger Gharbi Fateh received a pass from the left and he beat Leone Stars skipper Ibrahim Kargbo in the box before he released a left-footed shot in to the net.

The Tunisians continued to dominate play but didn’t get another goal until when they responded to Leone Stars’ second goal in the dying minutes of the game.

Substitute Alhassan ‘Crespo’ Kamara who is based in Sweden restored Leone Stars lead five minutes to full time as he finished off a loose ball from an up in the air challenge in front of goal to send the crowd at the stadium including President Koroma to ecstasy.

Alhassan ‘Crespo’ Kamara celebrates second goal for Leone Stars (Photo credit Ibrahim Y Sillah)

But the celebration was short-lived as the Tunisians responded immediately capitalising on a blunder by substitute Ibrahim Marcel Koroma who failed to play save losing the ball to a Tunisian attacker who found M’sakni Youssef to volley in to the net in the 87th minute.

The match finished 2-2 and the fans returned home disappointed. The return leg in Tunisia takes place next month with Sierra Leone now having a slim chance of reaching the finals to be staged in South Africa.


Leone Stars captain Ibrahim Kargbo: “We’re disappointed with the result but that’s football. The Tunisians dominated the second half because they were physically stronger than us. Some of our players got tired. We’ll work on our mistakes and try to correct them in the return leg encounter. All is not lost; I still have confidence that we can make it. This is our time to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations.”

Tunisia FA President Wadie Jary: “It was a difficult match played between two technical and physical teams. The result was modest, not a good for the two teams. The return leg in Tunis will be a more difficult game. We came in Freetown to win but we didn’t. Good luck to our boys for the return leg. We didn’t play that well in the first half but at half time the coach told the players their mistakes and they were given motivated words and as a result they played very well in second half. We drew 2-2 in Freetown but the chances to qualify from second leg encounter will be 50/50.”

By Mohamed Fajah Barrie in Freetown


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