A Missed Opportunity For Leone Stars in Their First Home Match Against Guinea-Bissau
As most Sierra Leone struggle to forget, Kei Kamara’s penalty miss at AFCON against Equatorial Guinea in a match which marks the end for Leone Stars at the Africa Nations Cup in Cameroon 2022.
This was the last game after over 25 years since Sierra Leone last appeared in the tournament. The country kick off their qualification campaign to the 2023 edition of the tournament due to be hosted in Cote D’ivoire against an adept Nigerian side a match that the Leone Stars ended up narrowly losing, this was despite Jonathan Morsay’s debut goal which gave Leone Stars the lead in the 12 minutes, only to be canceled out by goals from Alex Iwobi and Victor Osihmen in the first half which were enough to give the Super Eagles all three points at full-time.
However despite the 2-1 loss, Leones Stars created chances and troubled the Super Eagles. It was a performance that raised hope and belief about Sierra Leone becoming second favourite to qualify in the group after Nigeria even though Guinea Bissau’s 5-1 win over Sao Tome means they are top of the group after match day 1 in group on the 9th of June 2022.
It meant that fans of Leone Stars were very optimistic about taking all 3 points when the team hosted group leader Guinea Bissau on the 13th June 2022 at the Stade General Lansana Conte in Conakry while Sao Tome hosted Nigeria on the same day.
Sierra Leone started the game well with hundreds of Sierra Leoneans in the green, white and blue flag color at the stand cheering and chanting to support their darling Leone Stars who created great scoring opportunities in the first half and hit the woodwork in the opening 10 minutes of play.
Leone Stars were by far the better team in the first half should have been at least leading by a couple of goals in the opening 45 minutes but were not clinical to convert those precious goal scoring opportunities in the first half which ended goalless.
At the break, a heavy downpour of rain affected the pitch and the Guinea Bissau team used this to score two early goals in the opening eight minutes of the second half.
Just three minutes after scoring their second goal, as the 56th minute ticked by, Sana of Guinea Bissau was sent off for a last man challenge on Leone Star striker Amadu Bakayoko, going two down and Sierra Leone opponent reduced to 10 man all in the opening 11 minutes of the second half.
At this stage most fans at the stands felt a little adjustment was needed at the top left or right flank as time was running out but instead the Leone Stars boss chose to make his first changes 11 minutes after the red card which was halfway through the 2nd half.
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On the 67th minute, he brought in Sullay Kaikai to replaces Kevin Wright at left back position and 5 minutes later Augustus Kargbo was brought on for Kwamie Quee, who immediately impacted the match with his first run into the opposition box winning a penalty less than 3 minutes while he was brought on.
Unfortunately for Leone Stars, that was missed by Musa Noah Kamara (Musa Tombo). Less than three minutes after the penalty, Kargbo drove into his right from the left flank to score Leone Stars first goal with a powerful right foot shot in the 78th minute, just six minutes after he was brought on.
In the 88th minute Musa Noah Kamara made up for the missed penalty by scoring from close range after the Guinea Bissau goalie collided with Amadu Bakayoko. The Guinea Bissau players approached the referee protesting that there was an infringement on their goalie, who went unconscious after colliding with Bakayoko in the build up of the equalizer.
The match was stopped for over 7 minutes while the medical team were called to rush to the aid of the Bissau goalie who was stretched off and put into an ambulance.
Seven minutes of stoppage time was added when the match resumed after the break Guinea Bissau were forced to replace their injured goalkeeper with an outfield player and play the remaining +7 minutes of stoppage time with nine men because they had already exhausted all substitutions before their goalkeeper’s injury.
It was difficult to accept for most Leone Stars fans that even with a two man advantage and seven minutes of additional playing Time, Leone Stars could not get the decisive goal to take all three points.
The match ended Sierra Leone 2-21 Guinea Bissau while in the other group A fixture Nigeria beat Sao Tome 10-0 to top the group with 6 points, Guinea Bissau drop to 2nd with 4 points, Sierra Leone 3rd with 1 point and Sao Tome bottom with 0 points and 15 goals conceded in two matches already.
In September the Leone Stars will face Sao Tome home and away, with the poor stats of Sao Tome most fans are still optimistic that Sierra Leone will take maximum 6 points of Sao Tome and hope the Super Eagles do the same against Guinea Bissau to put the Leones Stars favorite to end second in the group after Nigeria.
At this stage most believe failing to take maximum points off Sao Tome will be game over for Sierra Leone chances of qualifications in the 2023 edition in Côte D’ivoire, an experience most Sierra Leoneans do not want to miss out on after that rousing Cameroon experience in 2022.