Sierra Leone end 25-year Afcon qualification wait


Sierra Leone have qualified for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

This is after they defeated the Squirrels of Benin 1-0 on Tuesday night thanks to a Kei Kamara penalty.

Benin needed a point from the encounter while Sierra Leone needed maximum points to book a ticket to the continental showpiece.

France-based striker Steve Mounie had an opportunity to put Benin ahead in the sixth minute, but his powerful header was saved by goalkeeper Mohamed Kamara.

Debutant Sullay Kaikai was a handful for the Benin defence down the wing, but strikers couldn’t convert his beautiful crosses to give the hosts the lead.

However, the hosts were awarded a penalty in the 16th minute of the game after Benin captain Khaled Adenon handled the ball inside the 18-yard box and Tunisian referee Haythem Guirat pointed to the spot.

Kamara stepped up and convincingly slotted the ball past goalkeeper Saturnin Allagbe to make it 1-0 for the home side as they went on to take maximum points which secured them passage to Cameroon next year.

This was the country’s first Afcon qualification since they got knocked out in the group stage phase of the 1996 edition in South Africa 25 years ago.

A lot of controversy embroiled the fixture which was initially supposed to be played on the 30th of March, but had to be delayed due to Covid-19 related matters. The Confederation of African Football (Caf) initially moved the game to the 14th of June, but more controversy happened after players tested positive for the virus which led to the Tuesday evening kick-off at the General Lansana Conte Stadium.

Nigeria finished at the summit of Group L with 14 points followed by Sierra Leone with seven points. Benin Republic have finished in third place while the group whipping boys Lesotho are rooted at the bottom of the standings.

The organising committee can now continue planning for the tournament with all 24 teams now confirmed for next year’s competition.

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By FARPost reporter

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