Salone News

Holland: Willem II Tilburg force Leone Stars to a draw

By  | 16 November 2009 at 19:51 | 648 views

Two Sierra Leonean players who proved glaringly outstanding in the international friendly over the weekend in Holland against Willem II, have expressed their willingness to play for the national team, but with diverse conditions to be met by the football authorities in Freetown.

Patrick Bantamoi whose acrobatic displays between the posts saved Leone Stars from drowning in a pool of goals thereby attracting frequent applause from spectators, said he is ever ready to play for his country but that the football authorities back home must always be prepared to provide his return air ticket.

“I have been hearing numerous complaints from my colleague footballers about the refusal of the SLFA to refund air tickets bought by players out of their pockets after earlier assurances from the FA. This is discouraging to players. It’s a real sacrifice to play for Leone Stars if you compare what other African countries are providing as bonuses for their national players. But since we know the troubles our country has gone through, at least the FA must be in position to always provide the return air tickets of players”.

He added that the FA and the government must sit together with other stakeholders in the game, identify some few Sierra Leonean footballers playing regular football in Europe who could always be invited to team up with the local based players.

‘’In the past, all sorts of players are invited not on merit or current form but on who recommends the player. This must not be the case. Players must be invited on merit and current form”, Bantamoi emphasised.

Bantamoi was the Under 17 goalkeeper who helped qualified Sierra Leone’s Under-17 team to its first World Cup tournament in Finland in 2005. He was among the 11 youngsters who escaped from the Hotel in Finland to ask for asylum. He is now the first choice goalkeeper for the Finish defending champions, FC Inter.

For his part, Alhassan Bangura, aka Ayala, who plies his trade for Watford in the English championship but currently on loan, said he too is always ready to offer his services for the national team but that his current immigration status in the UK will not allow him to play for Leone stars in Freetown, but can play for his country in any Away match.

The defensive midfielder, who was deployed in the right back during the Saturday friendly by the standing-in coaches, Ibrahim Junior Parade Koroma and Pa Momoh Kamara, both former members of Leone stars and East End Lions and Mighty Blackpool respectively, was very instrumental in the 1-1 draw.

Leone stars drew the first blood in the 26th minute through Swedish based Ismail Reflex Kamara after a well coordinated combination between Ayala and Gibrilla Woobay. This was after the US based attacker, Kai Kamara had earlier missed a golden opportunity with only the goalkeeper to beat but fumbled in the six yard box and Gibrilla Woobay had also hit the woodwork twice.

The host team Willem II secured the equaliser in the 68th minute after effecting series of substitutions.

Ibrahim Obreh Kargbo, who played for Leone Stars in the First half and played for Willem II in the second, was presented with an Award by his club officials for his outstanding contribution and dedication to the club.

Over 500 Sierra Leoneans turned out to the Willem II stadium in Tilburg with drums to drum up support for their darling Leone stars.

After the match, Ambassador Kargbo admonished the players to be law-abiding in their different countries and be prepared to do whatever it takes to put Sierra Leone football back to its past glory.