I am in a celebratory mood like the millions of Sierra Leoneans back home and in the diaspora after our heroes and Darling Leone Stars shocked us all and held The Pharaohs of Egypt to a 1-1 draw.
I belong to a Sierra Leone Internet Forum called Leonenet and it is one forum with different interests, mostly over political issues, but today if ever the great quote from Nelson Mandela was affirmed that “ Sports has the power to unite a people” , it happened on this forum.
SLPP and the different leadership supporters joined the PMDC and APC members to unite in support of our one and only Leone Stars, and even though many of us were sceptical of our chances, yet Mohamed Berray in Egypt gave us hope with regular updates and we were all praying and giving our views during the match.
We were one voice and shared the feeling of success once more with everyone back home and sincerely we probably enjoyed it more. The older members were astonished that even though their Bai Kabias and Umaru Deen Sesays and Kama Dumbuya etc were no longer playing, there were new heroes and they complimented with great joy with one remarking “de boys den do good oh”. The team was good, with a lot of pace, passion and determination and whilst Ibrahim Obreh Kargbo played as a leader and Mutapha Haji Bangura was exceptional giving us hope that when Kallon’s time comes for final retirement, there is hope of a replacement, the rest of our guys were just brilliant, beyond our imagination and to think of all the problems they went through on their to Egypt gives the players more credit as true Professionals. They will always be our Heroes and Our darling Leone Stars.
Once more we are a hopeful Nation of qualification for the 2012 Nations Cup and I will come to that. But first let me Thank one man that has stood with Leone Stars since APC came to power. I do not know him personally and have never met him, but there is one thing I know about him for sure, that is apart from him being Vice President of our wonderful Republic, he is as passionate as any other about Football and has stuck his neck out for Leone Stars over the last three years attracting unbelievable embarrassment and criticisms for his involvement especially when he set up the last committee to handle Leone Stars World Cup and Nations Cup qualification.
Despite raising so much money then, people criticised him for not ensuring the money was judiciously controlled. Yet his love of the game and for Sierra Leone encouraged him to persevere. We were even in danger of withdrawing from the tournament just a couple of weeks ago but for his timely intervention. SLFA had threatened to withdraw but VP will have none of it especially for financial reasons and forced Government to finance the trip.
As a member of the football family, but most importantly as a Passionate Sierra Leonean Football Fan, I want to thank him on behalf of this Nation for believing in Leone Stars and standing by them. Sir this very good result may never be dedicated but if I could talk to the Captain Ibrahim Obreh Kargbo, I would ask him to dedicate it to you first and then to the entire Nation. Please keep faith with the boys.
Leone Stars has achieved a wonderful result but it’s still a long way away for us to count our chicks before they are hatched. It is now important for our Technical team headed by Obi Metzeger to calculate what we need in terms of points over the next three matches against South Africa at Home in October and Niger at home and Away next year March.
It is my view that what we need against South Africa is not necessarily a victory but definitely not a defeat. We need to make sure we get a draw at worst and if we achieve that very possible feat and get three point from Home and away Legs against Niger in March/April, then we could be in for a very good ride. Three points against Egypt or South Africa next September and Octoiber will give us a solid claim to qualification.
Imagine then what it would mean if we can beat South Africa at home in October and get three points from Niger in March/April? It means we will be on 7 points and if we plan well and prepare properly, three points against Egypt/South Africa next year will mean, most probably automatic qualification or at worst best runner up qualification. It is achievable and I am not dreaming but the first step is for The FA, The VP’s Office and The Ministry of Sports to come together and prepare a proper programme for the remaining tournament to avoid the difficulties and embarrassing scenes that occurred with the preparations for this first match.
In conclusion let me congratulate the FA and the Ministry for their own Contribution and also that of The Parliamentary Sports Committee for their timely intervention. It proves that by working together a lot can be achieved. Everyone can now cherish the joy of a wonderful result for the next few days only; and then starting next week let preparations for South Africa in early October commence. It could be a very big fund raiser if done efficiently with a potentially very good victory.
Well done to Leone Stars once more…you were all brilliant! Bring on Bafana Bafana now!
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.