AFCON run has brought country together – Sierra Leone coach

Sierra Leone coach John Keister believes his team’s performances in holding continental giants Algeria and the Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations have given the whole country a much-needed boost.

The Leone Stars, ranked 108th in the world, are playing at the Cup of Nations for the first time since 1996 and head into their final group game against Equatorial Guinea on Thursday knowing a win will take them through to the knockout stage.

“Whatever happens here we will have brought Sierra Leone back into the world. Sierra Leone has gone through so much as a country,” Keister, who was born in England, told AFP.

“They have had a war, they have had Ebola, mudslides in which a lot of lives were lost, and then we have had corona which has affected the world.

“There has been a massive amount of happiness in Sierra Leone around what this national team has done.

“It has brought the country together. You see everyone in Sierra Leone wearing the green, white and blue.”

Sierra Leone, who are appearing at just their third AFCON and have never gone beyond the group stage, upset the odds to hold reigning champions Algeria and the Ivory Coast in their first two matches in Cameroon.

Algeria’s own defeat against Equatorial Guinea left the group wide open before Thursday’s final matches, with Sierra Leone facing the ‘National Thunder’ in the Cameroonian coastal town of Limbe.

“I think for us this is the most difficult match, especially when everybody expects us to go in there and win,” said Keister, who won 16 caps for Sierra Leone as a player. -AFP

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