“We are Going to be Competitive,” says Sierra Leone Coach
Sierra Leone will once again hit another AFCON journey running today afternoon when they take on holders Algeria in their opening match in Group E at the Japoma Stadium in Douala.
It may be a difficult start for the West African side, but Coach John Keister says he and his boys are more focused on delivering a better performance on the pitch as they represent the country.
“It is very important for the people of Sierra Leone that we come here and represent the country,” Keister said in his pre match press conference on Monday.
Coach Keister and his boys are returning to the biannual continental tournament for the first time since 1996 with the hope returning after every two years.
“As a nation, if we want to be coming to this competition every two years we have to come here and play against the better teams in Africa.
“It helps our development but we are looking forward to it and we are going to be competitive, that’s for sure.”
Paired in Group E alongside holders Algeria, Ivory Coast and Equatorial Guinea, the Leone Stars have less worry about where they end up in the tournament.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Where we end doesn’t really matter. For us it is about growth. We want to be back with the big boys.[/perfectpullquote]
“We don’t want to put pressure on ourselves and raise hopes about where we will finish.”
Regarding today’s match, coach Keister, who was born in England but was capped by Sierra Leone as a player, said they are prepared despite Algeria being one of the better sides.
“We know they are one of the better sides in Africa but football is about who wants it more on the day and we are prepared for that. Records are there to be broken,” said Keister.
Meanwhile, Algeria captain Riyad Mahrez believes that every team came with new energy to the tournament and called on his teammates to rise to the challenge.
“This will be even harder than the last AFCON. The level will be a step up and the other teams are better, but we come here with the ambition and determination to try to replicate what we did in 2019 and achieve great things again,” Mahrez said in his pre-match conference.
Algeria won 2-0 when both teams last met in the 1996 AFCON.