I write this piece as a happy-sad but grateful Sierra Leonean and a loyal Leone Stars fan.

Our participation in this year’s AFCON has revealed a lot to us, Sierra Leoneas. There is much good to write home about. Similarly, there is the opposite.

If there is one thing we appreciate for our participation in the AFCON, it is the fact that Sierra Leoneans became united for a common goal. This should speak volume of the point that our differences should not deter us from unity, progress and development. Oh how I wish we would be united like this on national issues!

Another good thing is the fact that we qualified for the AFCON after 25 years, participated in the Tournament and made our mark. Many Sierra Leoneans and I are sincerely appreciative of this fact and achievement.

We and Leone Stars appeared on the big stage, played against two powerful teams (Algeria and Ivory Coast), shared points with them and showed the world thag Sierra Leone and Leone Stars are back on the stage. This in itself is a big achievement – a big big one.

Additionally, if I remember how we made continental and international headlines with our first two matches, my “warmhat” for our loss to Equatorial Guinea “dae col”.

Imagine how our Goalkeeper (Mohamed Kamara) carrying Sierra Leone’s name made top football headlines across the globe. Remember how he saved a penalty and won Best Goalkeeper in the first and second rounds of the AFCON group stage.

Also, remember Kei Kamara’s spirit when he took us to AFCON, Alhaji Kamara’s lion-like celebration when he gracefully scored and Musa Tombo’s “show-me-your-number” goal which Manchester’s Bailey “will not easily “4get na en life”.

Who will easily forget how Steven Caulker gave his all for Leone Stars, how Captain Zaingailay saved many possible goals, how Osman Kakay proved it against Zaha, how Kelvin Wright played well against Mahrez, how Buya was aggressive in the attack, how Leone Stars fans were cheering up the team in Duola and how we moved from being underdogs to being the Lions we are. Surely, Cameroon and the world have taken serious notice of Leone Stars and Sierra Leone.

Who would easily forget how “our body dem bin dae bet bet” to watch and support our darling Leone Stars? The increadsed social media engagement and interaction on Leone Star’s participation in the AFCON is a testament to the fact that we love our country, we celebrate Leone Stars, we wanted to win AFCON and we wanted to “nak pot coba 4 one week na d contri”.

But as fate may have it, our wish didn’t come to pass. Sadly and painfully, it didn’t. We recognize the role of fate but at the same time, we should be straightforward to discuss certain issues which affected us. It’s just the reality, and it’s part of being real to discuss reality especially in football.

First, Leone Stars lacks SYSTEM – something which every winning team should have. Think of how the team play. There is complete mismatch among our defense, midfield and attack – no coordination, no correlation, no corroboration. Whatever these words mean, Leone Stars just lack a SYSTEM.

Leone Stars don’t posses ball. We don’t press to score. Our players seldom challenge balls without losing it or fouling the opponent player. Only Kai Kamara is good at challenging and sometimes winning the ball from opponent players.

I am not a football analyst, but I believe every winning team should have two playing systems or at least one. We have a team, but they’re not teamed up. We have individual players, but lack a team “woy understand one another. ”

We have a by-God-grace attack, a play-u-yone-make-ah-play-mi-yone midfield, let-the-attacker-play-the-ball defence, an overconfident coach, unsatisfied bench and “over-sabi-sabi” fans.

Remember how we narrowly qualified for the AFCON. Most of our matches “na draw normor”. And most of the draw come after we have been defeated.

Leone Stars has the zeal to win but they don’t have the winning mentality in the pitch. Why is it that always the case that “teams den dae first score pa wi”. Why “wi nor dae score?” Leone Stars always “dae make complex over other teams”. We “nor dae play lek wi kin able defeat others. Wi kin jos go na pitch and habop pan God”.

This is why many Sierra Leoneans and Leone Stars fans are unhappy with the team because their play against Equatorial Guinea wasn’t that impressive, like people who play a match of “die or live” – a match of “wi must win”.

Also, we Sierra Leoneans and Leone Stars should stop settling for less. We should aim bigger. I really feel bad when I think of how small the Gambia, Comoros could make it to the Round of 16 but we couldn’t, not because we couldn’t but because of “complexity over other teams”.

Additionally, there is an issue with the coaching side. His inability to make changes appropriately and to use players aptly in some cases affected us greatly. In football, there shouldn’t be much attachment. If “person blunder, tellam sae e don blunder”.

Going to AFCON in this age, not doing so well not because of “badluck” but partly because “poor play” and coming back to “courage courage ourselves” isn’t the best way.

This is why we should let fans react though responsibly, so we will know “which is which”. No sensible person or real football fan will insult or attack Kei Kamara for missing that penalty. Our loss is not any single player’s fault but the team’s fault. They should take responsibility. And the good, the ugly of the team should be told. And truly, Leone Stars must up their game moving forward.

If Leone Stars does not up their game or improve on their play, we “go strugglingly qualify for subsequent AFCONs, go play group stages and come home back “to courage ourselves”. We would not want Leone Stars to thread on this path, would we?

In every case, the point of gratefulness and the indisputable fact remains that we qualified the AFCON after 25 years, went back on the big stage, commenced the rewriting of our football history, made our mark on international stages, made our presence felt and flew the GREEN, WHITE & BLUE higher.

As I end, let me, as many people have, thank Leone Stars for their great game, and wish Sierra Leone and Leone Stars better luck next time.