The Seychelles National football team go down fighting “Leone Stars” in Sierra Leone
The Seychelles National team must beat "Leone Stars" to qualify for the group status AFCON. (Glenn Harper/Flickr)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles national football team went down 0-2 to “Leone Stars” of Sierra Leone at the Orange African Cup of Nation’s (AFCON) qualifiers match played at the National Stadium in Freetown on Saturday.
Before sneaking a win against Seychelles, Sierra Leone had struggled to overcome Swaziland in their first round. This time around, Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) left nothing to chance as it recalled all of its stars playing international football for its squad against The Seychelles National football team. The experienced “Leone Stars” were at full strength fielding internationals against the Indian Ocean Island’s squad whose only international preparation was a week’s camp and a friendly against the eastern Africa’s side Uganda Cranes. A pre-match poll conducted by sierraleonefootball.com largely favoured “Leone Stars” to beat Seychelles.
According to Confederation of African Football (CAF) Khalifa Jabie who plays for Turkish League 1 side Balikesirspor scored the first goal and international defender Umaru Bangura central defender for Belarusian premier league side Dinamo Minsk scored the second through a penalty. The Seychelles National football team had managed to hold off the pressure from the home side in the first half and only managed to concede in the second half when both goals were scored.
A few days before the match SLFA suspended some 15 players and officials for an indefinite period after allegations of match-fixing were linked to them. According to Reuters among the 15 were three players and former national team captain Ibrahim Kargbo. The three players were Christian Caulker a goalkeeper for a local team, defender Ibrahim Koroma who plays for Swedish side Varberg and Samuel Barlay of Azerbaijan’s premier side FC Mughan who were later withdrawn from the “Leone Stars” squad that had been slated to play against Seychelles. A joint statement released by SLFA and the sports ministry says accuses the 15 of fixing the 2008 Nations Cup qualifier against South Africa. A match-fixing inquiry is currently underway.
Though the “Leone Stars” are ranked 54th in the world and 9th in Africa by the FIFA World Rankings and are largely favoured to progress to the group stages, The Seychelles National football team under coach Ulrich Mathiot are expected to revive their campaign when they meet for a return match in early August in Mahe.