Sierra Leone National Team

Leone Stars  - 50th in FIFA World Rankings (14 Aug 2014)

Sierra Leone have moved to 50th place in the FIFA World Rankings and 7th in Africa - their highest ever placing (14 Aug 2014).

The Leone Stars previous highest ranking was in 1996 when they reached 51st place. By 2007 they had fallen to their lowest ranking at 172nd place.

National Coach Johnny McKinstry has been clear since taking over the reins some 18 months ago that he had two goals for 2014 - to move Sierra Leone to the top 50 in the world, and to qualify for the African Cup of Nations in 2015.

Leone Stars Celebrate scoring against Equatorial Guinea, 2013. [Pic: Darren McKinstry]Asked about the progress Coach McKinstry said:

"Our move today to 50th in the FIFA World Rankings and 7th in Africa affirms the progress that we have made to date.

Since being appointed I have sought to develop a clear playing style, and also to expand the player pool available to the Leone Stars.  We have been bold in our efforts  -adopting an attacking style and giving out 13 debuts in that time.  By identifying new talent we have had better access to a group of quality players who are match fit and playing regularly for their clubs.  This has allowed us to improve the overall quality of the squad and to advance in the world rankings."

The move in the world rankings comes just days after the Seychelles withdrew from the return leg of their AFCON qualifier against the Leone Stars.  Victory over the Seychelles in that game could have seen the Leone Stars move the mid-40s of the world rankings.

On the missed opportunity Coach McKinstry said:

"It was obviously disappointing that Seychelles chose to withdraw. We knew that after our 2-0 victory in Freetown that the Seychelles would have to abandon their defensive tactics and we believed that this would further allow us to score goals against them."

It is possible that the Leone Stars world rankings will benefit further if the Seychelles' withdrawal is taken into account in the FIFA world rankings.

While the move to the top 50 in the world has been achieved, qualification for AFCON 2015 remains a challenge - not least as Sierra Leone have been drawn in Group D, a group that has become to be known as the 'Group of Death' in that it contains Cote d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Sierra Leone and DR Congo.

"I, the technical staff and the players are confident.  Going into the Group D games we will be able to combine new talent from across the recent debuts, with more established experience - including from a number of key players who are returning from injury."

Coach McKinstry working with the Leone Stars, 2014. [Pic: Darren McKinstry]On his approach to date, and the work of the technical team, Coach McKinstry was clear:

"I continue to stress the importance of preparation in everything we do.  A key element in progressing to the finals of AFCON will be consistency - and consistency will only come with time and dedication.  So I am working with the SLFA and the Ministry of Sport to ensure we have the best opportunity to get the players together for sufficient time before each game so that we can prepare effectively as one team."

On what the progress to date might mean to the fans, Coach McKinstry reflected:

"We are all only too mindful of the difficult humanitarian situation in Sierra Leone at present, and the efforts being made by those in-country, and by our international partners, to combat Ebola.  It is our hope that the Leone Star's recent success and our ongoing development can both give hope to Sierra Leoneans in these challenging times, and provide a positive message about Sierra Leone to the wider world."

 

Leone Stars Highlights 

You can click any of the pictures below to see a full screen version of the picture.  You can then also choose to click the play arrow to watch a slide show of all images.

George Davies      [Leone Stars v DR Congo, 10 September 2014 (Pic © Darren McKinstry / www.johnnymckinstry.com)]
David Simbo strikes from just outside the box     [Leone Stars v DR Congo, 10 September 2014 (Pic © Darren McKinstry / www.johnnymckinstry.com)]
Sheriff Suma     [Leone Stars v DR Congo, 10 September 2014 (Pic © Darren McKinstry / www.johnnymckinstry.com)]
Alhassan 'Crespo' Kamara     [Leone Stars v DR Congo, 10 September 2014 (Pic © Darren McKinstry / www.johnnymckinstry.com)]
Alhadji Kamara drives on goal    [Leone Stars v DR Congo, 10 September 2014 (Pic © Darren McKinstry / www.johnnymckinstry.com)]
Michael Lahoud   [Leone Stars v Ivory Coast, 6 September 2014 (Pic © Darren McKinstry / www.johnnymckinstry.com)]
Mohamed 'Medo' Kamara   [Leone Stars v Ivory Coast, 6 September 2014 (Pic © Darren McKinstry / www.johnnymckinstry.com)]
Alhadji Kamara   [Leone Stars v Ivory Coast, 6 September 2014 (Pic © Darren McKinstry / www.johnnymckinstry.com)]
Kei Kamara   [Leone Stars v Ivory Coast, 6 September 2014 (Pic © Darren McKinstry / www.johnnymckinstry.com)]
Alhassan 'Crespo' Kamara    [Leone Stars v Ivory Coast, 6 September 2014 (Pic © Darren McKinstry / www.johnnymckinstry.com)]
Michael Lahoud  [Leone Stars v Ivory Coast, 6 September 2014 (Pic © Darren McKinstry / www.johnnymckinstry.com)]
The Leone Stars celebrate going 1-nil in the first half [Leone Stars v Ivory Coast, 6 September 2014 (Pic © Darren McKinstry / www.johnnymckinstry.com)]
Mustpaha Dumbuya [Leone Stars v Ivory Coast, 6 September 2014 (Pic © Darren McKinstry / www.johnnymckinstry.com)]
Captain Umaru 'Zingalay' Bangura converts the penalty (72 min) to put the Leone Stars 2-0 ahead [Leone Stars v Seychelles, Freetown, 19 July 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Ibrahim Kally and Mohamed Kamanor [Leone Stars v Seychelles, Freetown, 19 July 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Kei Kamara  [Leone Stars v Seychelles, Freetown, 19 July 2014 (Pic © Darren McKinstry)]
Khalifa Jabbie scores to put the Leone Stars 1-nil ahead [Leone Stars v Seychelles, Freetown, 19 July 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Kei Kamara  [Leone Stars v Seychelles, Freetown, 19 July 2014 (Pic © Darren McKinstry)]
Captain Umara 'Zingalay' Bangura  [Leone Stars v Seychelles, Freetown, 19 July 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Ibrahim 'Teteh' Bangura  [Leone Stars v Seychelles, Freetown, 19 July 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Kei Kamara rushes to congratulate Umaru 'Zingalay' Bangura  [Leone Stars v Swaziland 31 May 2014 (Pic © Darren McKinstry)]
Captain Umaru 'Zingalay' Bangura celebrates his first international goal for the Leone Stars.  [Leone Stars v Swaziland 31 May 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Michael Lahoud and team mates call out for the penalty. [Leone Stars v Swaziland 31 May 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Swaziland foul Michael lahoud to concede a penalty [Leone Stars v Swaziland 31 May 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Abduali Baggie marshalls his team mates  [Leone Stars v Swaziland 31 May 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
David Simbo [Leone Stars v Swaziland 31 May 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Umaru Bangura [Leone Stars v Swaziland 31 May 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Leone Fans [Leone Stars v Swaziland 31 May 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Michael Lahoud [Leone Stars v Swaziland 31 May 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
David Simbo [Leone Stars v Swaziland 31 May 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Alfred Sahkoh [Leone Stars v Swaziland 31 May 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
The Leone Stars - National Anthem [Leone Stars v Swaziland 31 May 2014, Photo © Darren McKinstry]
Coach McKinstry with his technical and medical teams  [Leone Stars v Swaziland 31 May 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Fans following the team bus  [Leone Stars v Swaziland 31 May 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Fans line the roads to cheer on the Leone Stars  [Leone Stars v Swaziland 31 May 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Abdulai Baggie [Leone Stars v Swaziland 18 May 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Abdulai Baggie [Leone Stars v Swaziland 18 May 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Kei Kamara [Leone Stars v Swaziland 18 May 2014, Photo © Darren McKinstry]
Alfred 'Zagalo' Sankoh [Leone Stars v Swaziland 18 May 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Mike Lahoud [Leone Stars v Swaziland 18 May 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Leone Stars Goalscorer Sulaiman Sesay [Leone Stars v Swaziland 18 May 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Sulaiman Sesay [Leone Stars v Swaziland 18 May 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Leone Stars Official Team Picture [Leone Stars v Swaziland 18 May 2014 Photo © Darren McKinstry]]
Alhassan 'Crespo' Kamara celebrates putting the Leone Stars 3:0  [Leone Stars Vs. Equatorial Guinea, 7 Sept 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Alhassan 'Crespo' Kamara strikes the ball to put the Leone Stars 3:0  [Leone Stars Vs. Equatorial Guinea, 7 Sept 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Alhassan 'Crespo' Kamara [Leone Stars Vs. Equatorial Guinea, 7 Sept 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Mohamed 'Poborsky' Bangura [Leone Stars Vs. Equatorial Guinea, 7 Sept 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Mustapha 'Haji' Bangura [Leone Stars Vs. Equatorial Guinea, 7 Sept 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Ibrahim 'Obrey' Kargbo celebrates his penalty goal with teammates 'Crespo', Strasser, 'Poborsky' and Suma.  [Leone Stars Vs. Equatorial Guinea, 7 Sept 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Mustapha 'Haji' Bagura celebrates scoring the Leone Stars first goal [Leone Stars Vs. Equatorial Guinea, 7 Sept 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Mohamed 'Poborsky' Bangura celebrates as Leone Stars go 1:0  [Leone Stars Vs. Equatorial Guinea, 7 Sept 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Mohamed 'Poborsky' Bangura [Leone Stars Vs. Equatorial Guinea, 7 Sept 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Sherrif Suma  [Leone Stars Vs. Equatorial Guinea, 7 Sept 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Khalif Jabbie[Leone Stars vs. Cape Verde, June 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
John Kamara (Leone Stars) [vs. Cape Verde, June 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Leone Stars Head Coach Johnny McKinstry talks with Assistant Coaches Tom Harris and John Keister at half-time (Leone Stars) [vs. Cape Verde, June 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Mohamed 'Poborsky' Bangura [vs. Cape Verde, June 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
John Kamara (Leone Stars) [vs. Cape Verde, June 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Mohamed 'Poborsky' Bangura [vs. Cape Verde, June 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Alhassan 'Crespo' Kamara [vs. Cape Verde, June 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Leone Stars Coach Johnny McKinstry as the Leone Stars move into the lead for the second time (2:1) against Tunisia, June 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)
Alhassan 'Crespo' Kamara  - vs Tunisia, June 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)
Leone Stars Head Coach Johnny McKinstry looks on as the Leone Stars maintain their lead over Tunisia, June 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)
George 'Kweku' Davies makes his international debut against Tunisia, June 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)
Alhassan 'Crespo' Kamara, chips the keeper only to have it cleared from the line by a Tunisian defender [Leone Stars vs. Tunisia, June 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]
Mohamed 'Poborsky' Bangura (Leone Stars) [vs. Tunisia, June 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]

 

More News?

For more news and pictures of Leone Stars games and training camps - visit www.johnnymckinstry.com/leonestars

 

Notes to Editors

  1. You can read more about the FIFA world Rankings, the AFCON 2015 tournament and the Leone Stars fixtures.
  2. Johnny McKinstry was appointed Head Coach of the Sierra Leone National Men's Football team on 11th April 2013.  You can read more about his time in charge of the Leone Stars
  3. See www.johnnymckinstry.com for a range of information - biography, press releases and photographs for press use.
  4. To arrange an email or telephone interview, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Download Pictures (for Media Use)

See www.johnnymckinstry.com/gallery

Quotes: What the media say

  • McKinstry has come close to a giant killing before, when his Sierra Leone side came within half an hour of defeating Herve Renard’s Cote d’Ivoire.

    Read More
    Ed Dove Goal.com
  • If one day, McKinstry reaches the very pinnacle of the game, few could begrudge him his day in the sun... no one could say he hasn’t earned it.

    Read More
    Daily Mirror
  • Very few 29-year-olds have managed a national football team. None have done it while that country is being brought to its knees by Ebola.

    Read More
    Ben Smith BBC Sport
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