Sports

Leone Stars Shock Swazis

24 May 2014 at 15:26 | 8325 views

By Musa Sesay in Manzini, Swaziland.

After missing out on eight consecutive Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, Leone Stars started the 2015 Morocco AFCON campaign with a vital away draw at the Somholo stadium in Swaziland last Sunday.

The visitors, without even allowing the dust to settle surprised the hosts with Sulaiman Fullah’s early goal in less than two minutes. The former Inter Milan teenager capitalized on a defensive error inside the 18 yard box to slot home the opener. The incredible goal silenced the stadium.

After the goal, the hosts responded well and looked very much adventurous. They almost levelled the score but Leone Stars goal keeper Morris Zombo sprang to action in the 8th when he made an acrobatic save to deny Nkambule Sifiso’s effort.

Leone Stars enjoyed the Lion’s share of the match in the first segment dominating possession and they could have doubled the tally if Kei Kamara and USA based striker, Michael Laboud had converted their chances wisely.
With no yellow or red on neither sides the South Sudanese referee wasted no time to sound his whistle for recess.

The Swazis raised their game after the break committing more men upfront as they desperately searched for an equalizer and their efforts paid off in the 53rd minute when striker, Malambe Siboniso’s powerful shot took a deflection on Umar’s back and landed safely to an almost empty net.

The hosts were gingered by the equalizer and backed by the home crowd they were able to regain confidence holding on to possession for longer periods. Their only disappointment was the attentiveness and solid performance of Leone Stars goal keeper-Solomon Morris (Zombo) who denied them the opportunity to take the lead.

Coach McKinstry made some relevant changes replacing Sulaiman Fullah and the tired Alfred Zagalo with Ibrahim Soghor Kallay and defender, Ibrahim Jaw-Jaw Kamara. The changes brought a huge relief to Leone Stars as Michael Laboud and Tramere Rovers midfielder, Abdulai Belbajj came very close to give Leone Stars the much needed victory at the dying seconds of the match and celebrated after the whistle.

Content with the result, Swazi Coach, Harris Bulunga described the result as a fair one but maintained that the second leg is still a 50-50 affair.

“It was a fair match as Leone Stars showed good account of themselves, we made a severe mistake in conceding an early goal. Instead of imposing ourselves, we ended up chasing the game and that affects our game plan. Stars are tactically good, they know when to raise and cool the game, and I can say, they are professionals” he admitted.

His captain, Tony Tsabedze shared the same sentiments as his boss and hopes his team mates would recover on time for the away match.

Coach Mackinstry on the other hand, said the result is a good one, citing that an away draw in Africa is as good as a win adding that the altitude affected a team that trained only once on the eve of the match while promising to select a more formidable side for the return leg.

Leone Stars starting line-up, Solomon “Zombo”Morris, Ibrahim Soja Kamara, Yeami Dunia, Ibrahim Koroma, Umaru Bangura, Khalifa Jabbie, Suleiman Fullah, Alfred Zagalo Sankoh, Kei Kamara, Michael Laboud and Abdulai Belbaji.

Substitues: Aruna Kamara (not used) Nathaniel Anderson (not used) defender Ibrahim Jaw-Jaw Kamara (67th minute), Ibrahim Kallay(62), Kobba Fayia (not used).

Swaziland: Goal Keeper, Gwebu Hhlanhla, Masero Sifiso, Ntimane Skhumbuzo, Mabila Sifiso, Dlamini Machawe, Nkambule Sifiso, Lukhele Mxolisi, Malambe Siboniso, Hlatshwako Sandile, Badenhorst Felix and Tsbedze Tony.
Subs: Nxumalo Zweli, Shongwe Sdumo (38) Zweli “Milito” Nxumalo,(67) Tsabedze Nkosingphile, Mkhweli Sanele, Dlamini Bheki, Mamaba Muntu, Mathunzi “Xavi”Mkhonitfo (85).

Photo: Leone Star Abdulai Belbajie (green jersey) in action in Swaziland.

Photo credit: Darren McKinstry.

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