It’s no longer news that Sierra Leone will not be among contenders for next year’s African Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.

Sierra Leone Participate in the last edition in Cameroon but will miss the upcoming continental showpiece. Here are some lessons from the latest disappointment.

Leone Stars Football Team requires Quality Players and a Very experienced Coach:

The cliché, uneasy lies the head that bears the crown resonates with the current status of Leone Stars Coach, John Keister.  One of the major reasons why the gaffer, keeps experimenting players is the struggle to identify quality Sierra Leonean footballers  both home and in the diaspora. A majority of Sierra Leone’s professional footballers are not playing top flight football  in Europe, North America and other continents and this has led  to the low quality of performance in the national male football team.

Despite this challenge, most Sierra Leonean  football lovers are clamouring for an experienced gaffer that would right the wrongs of the Keister era.

Personally, I believe Sierra Leone should emulate Senegal in terms of modeling football Administration and Structures. Looking into facts about the Senegalese national football team squad, their current coach, current world ranking and AFCON progress can justifies that they have quality players and a very experienced coach. Senegal is among the strongest teams in Africa, with several trophies to their names and numerous appearances in AFCON. They won the 2021 Total AFCON unbeatable with quality players.

They have had successful runs in most competitions they have taken part and the players play in Top-flight leagues all over the world. To aspire for heights, Sierra Leone requires quality players from home and abroad coupled with a very experienced coach for International assignments.

The Need For More Investment in Sierra Leone Professional Football League

The fact is the Sierra Leone professional football league has really improved in recent years and in it are players who are hungry to make a name for themselves in the game, some pundits say, why not get the best among the home based players and a small number of the foreign based instead of the other way round which will increase hunger and desire of the team.
Players like Abubakarr Samura, Prince Barrie have proved that they have what it takes to rub shoulders with the best stars in the world and there are many like them in the top flight.

Proper Football Administration, Procedures and Structures.

Football is a game that has to be guided with proper administration. If Sierra Leone wants to compete with the power houses in African football, the Sierra Leone Football Association has to continue its enhancement of football administrative Procedures and Structures in the country.
A clear manifestation of these procedures and structures can be the creation of a special desk in the FA that monitors and offer advice to Sierra Leone professional and Local footballers on decisions about transfers to clubs abroad, negative effect of age fraud, Possession of multiple passports e.t c. Two vital Players were recently left out Leone Stars squad in the 2023 AFCON Qualifier against Nigeria due to their possession of multiple passports.

The football officials in the said special desk should be able to guide players to choose teams where they will get quality playing time. If players get more playing time in their respective clubs, Leone Stars would benefit from their output during international assignments. This will enhance players’ out put within the Leone Stars Squad.

The country is one of the low Football ranked nation in the world  due to its poor performances in International competitions.  A cure to this challenge is the lack of Proper football Academy system in the country.

Sierra Leone as a football nation lacks proper football Academy system to develop young Players within the grass root system. An example of this challenge is the famous Craig Bellamy football Academy which currently lies in a dilapidated state of ruin as a result of mismanagement in the country.

Meanwhile, when it comes to developing young talent, Sierra Leone also learn from Senegal. Few countries  can match the pedigree of  Senegal in Africa. Known for their technical skills, creativity, and attacking style, Senegalese footballers have become legends in the sport, with names like Sadio Mane, and others in Europe  have left and indelible imprint in African Football.

But the success of  Senegalese football isn’t just down to natural talent; it’s also a result of the country’s football academies. These academies provide young players with the resources, training, and support they need to develop into top-tier professionals. From Generation Foot, renowned academy in Dakar to lesser-known academies, these institutions play a crucial role in the development of young footballers in the Senegal.

Establishment of Sierra Leonean football Academies can help in the building of players who can handle pressure and perform under challenging circumstances. Players can learn mental preparation alongside physical and technical skills, and the importance of communication and leadership The establishment of Academies can also help the development of young players who are versatile and adaptable to different positions on the field: technical skills, tactical knowledge, and physical fitness.

Advantage of Hosting  International Matches 

In 2021, the Confederation of African Football (CAF), imposed a ban on Sierra Leone’s National Stadium from hosting international matches. According to CAF, the national stadium in Freetown is unfit to host international matches, because the stadium lacks adequate facilities that match the standards. The stadium has been in existence since 1978 and has been a center for all major activities happening in the country.

However, the Ministry of Sports in Collaboration with the National Sports Authority through the Chinese Aid Commenced the rehabilitation of the Siaka Steven Stadium. The $40m rehabilitation of the Freetown bases stadium is expected to be completed in 2024.

This Development has led to Sierra Leone playing all it home matches in three different countries[ Morocco, Guinea and Liberia] in the 2023 AFCON Qualifiers.

Playing away has been difficult for the Leone Stars to thrive. “We know it’s in our disadvantage to play our home matches away from home,” FA Boss Thomas Daddy Brima told BBC Sports Africa when the Launching was done.

Leone Stars has transformed the Siaka Stevens Stadium into a fortress as far as history is concerned and part of the reason is due to the massive support the team enjoyed whenever they play there.  Leone Stars have struggled to win matches in the 2023 AFCON Qualifiers  on foreign soil as a  result of lack of home support. As a host country, Leone Stars normally becomes the Centre of attention, bringing  prestige and honour to the country. Hosting  matches at home helps to boost players’ morale and  revenue generation  for the  government  and the Football Association.