The Leone Stars have arrived in Lubumbashi and completed training ahead of their qualifier with DR Congo tomorrow (Wed 10 Sept 2014).
Ebola restrictions require that the Leone Stars do not host games in Sierra Leone. Home advantage has thus been relinquished and the game will be played in DR Congo at Stade Mazembe in Lubumbashi (14:00 local; 12:00 GMT; 13:00 BST)
The Leone Stars arrived in Lubumbashi, DR Congo on Monday evening, just over 1 day before their Group D AFCON qualifier.
Preparations have been far from ideal. Having left their hotel in Abidjan (Cote d'Ivoire) just a few hour after the Ivory Coast game on Saturday, the team spent a full 2 days travelling - only arriving in Lubumbashi at 10pm on Monday evening. This affords them only one light training session on Tuesday before the game on Wednesday, against a team who have been in camp locally for something approaching almost 10 days.
The scheduling of the group games, with 2 games within 5 days, means that the second game is always going to be difficult. Players recovering from a Saturday game and the need to travel across Africa to another location means that both recovery and preparation time is limited.
Despite being based outside of Sierra Leone, the Leone Stars are facing additional and considerable difficulties associated with Ebola restrictions and the more limited travel options available to them as a result. Having no home games means the players must travel to all games and therefore have very limited time for recovery and preparation.
On this occasion, it has not been possible to get Mallan Roberts over from Canada in time, and a lack of flight availability meant that two players, Alfred Sankoh and Julius Wobay, along with some of the delegation were not able to make the final leg of the journey from Kinshasa to DR Congo.
Coach McKinstry commented:
"The situation with regard to travel and preparation time has been far from ideal. I spoke personally to both players [Sankoh and Wobay] and explained matters to them. They understand that the situation was out of my control and that I look forward to the possibility of calling them up to the squad again in the future. Had there been sufficient flight availability they would have remained part of the squad."
Talent, tactics and preparation
On the prospects for the DR Congo game, Coach McKinstry said
"We made best use of our only training session in Lubumbashi on Tuesday afternoon. We have considerable talent in our squad, including the new players identified by me over the last 18 months. The technical staff have also sought to maximise our tactical advantage by carefully studying our opponents before each game."
"However, talent and tactics can only take us so far. Preparation and sufficient time in training camps is also vital to ensure we are match ready and playing as one team. I continue to speak to the SLFA and Ministry about how we can ensure sufficient training time before our games. The simple truth is that lack of preparation time will severely limit our ability to progress in AFCON 2015, and to demonstrate the full potential of the Leone Stars."
Training Squad (in Lubumbashi)
- Solomon Zombo Morris - US Quevily (France)
- John Trye - ASA Charge (USA)
- Sheriff Suma - Syrianska (Sweden)
- Umaru Bangura - Dynamo Minsk (Belarus)
- David Simbo - Al Hilal (Sudan)
- Mohamed Kamanor - UMEA (Sweden)
- Mustapha Dumbuya - Notts County (England)
- Abdul Rahman Bangura - Atlanta Silverbacks (USA)
- Mohamed Kamara - Bolton Wanderers (England)
- Michael Lahoud - Philadelphia Union (USA)
- Khalifa Jabbie - Balikesirspor (Turkey)
- Ibrahim Kallay - Lulea (Sweden)
- Albert Kargbo - Friskaviljor (Sweden)
- George Davies - (Germany)
- Alhassan Kamara - Orebo (Sweden)
- Kei Kamara - (England)
- Alhaji Kamara - Norrkoping (Sweden)
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.
For news and pictures of Leone Stars games and training camps - visit www.johnnymckinstry.com/leonestars
Notes to Editors
- The game is the second game in the Group D qualifiers as part of AFCON 2015 - against DR Congo (home leg) on 10 Sep 2014.
- You can read more about the AFCON 2015 tournament and the Leone Stars fixtures.
- 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
- See www.johnnymckinstry.com for a range of information - biography, press releases and photographs for press use.