Interesting facts about Leone Stars, Kenya’s opponents in Afcon

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The Leone Stars have made two appearances in Afcon final - (1994 &1996) - bowing out at Group stage in both editions

On paper, the Leone Stars, Sierra Leone’s national football team, whom Kenya tackle on June 10 in Free Town, are complete underdogs.

They are currently placed at position 113 in latest Fifa rankings published last Thursday, but have also not impressed in past African Cup of Nation campaigns. Unlike Kenya which has competed in five Afcon finals - (1972, 1988, 1990, 1992, 2004) - the Leone Stars have made just two appearances (1994 and 1996), bowing out at the group stage in both editions.

Shockingly, three years ago, in August 2014, the team registered perhaps its best record jumping up to position 50 in the Fifa rankings. On the other hand, the Stars best ever Fifa ranking came in December 2008, when they rose to an impressive position 68 under coach Francis Kimanzi.

Caf names match officials for Sierra Leone v Kenya match

Fast forward, as the two sides prepare to collide, the Stars have made major inroads sitting at position 74, 39 places above the West Africans, who will host them in Freetown in the first leg match of 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifier.

Sierra Leone team training

The Leone Stars first ever international match was against the Super Eagles of Nigeria, who thumped them 2-0 in Freetown on August 10, 1949, while their biggest win was against neighbours Niger on March 7, 1976, at the same venue. Mali handed them their biggest defeat in the form of a 6-0 demolition in Bamako on June 17, 2007.

As they prepare for the crunch game, coach John Keister, who recently replaced Ghanaian Sellas Tetteh, has heightened his preparations with a strong squad comprising of 19 foreign-based players including Sweden-based Alhassan Kamara and USA domiciled Alhaji Kamara, who turns out for DC United. There is also Micheal Lahoud (Miami FC USA), and David Simbo - (Yeni Amasyaspor, Turkey).

Full squad: Goalkeepers: Solomon Z. Moris - (France), Alhaji Dauda Kamara - (Guinea- GK).

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Defenders: Mustapha Dumbuya - (Partick Thistle Scotland), Hassan Milla Sesay - (FC Lahti Finland), Captain - Umaru Bangura - (FC Zurich Switzerland), David Simbo - (Yeni Amasyaspor Turkey).

Okumbi: Only 20 players will make trip to Sierra Leone

Midfielders: (Micheal Lahoud – (Miami FC USA), (Mohamed M. Kamara - (Kuwait SC Kuwait), Alfred Z. Sankoh - (Denizlispor K Turkey), Julius G. Wobay - (Olimpija Ljubljana Slovenia), John B. Kamara - (FC Kaisar Kazakhstan), Kalifa Jabbie - (FC Sheriff Tiraspol Moldova), George Davies - (on loan Floridsorfer AC Austria), Abdul Sesay (JS Hercules Finland), Kwame Quee - (Víkingur Ólafsvík Iceland). Strikers: Kei Kamara - (New England Revolution USA), Alhassan Kamara – (BK Hacken Sweden), Alhaji Kamara (DC United USA on to Richard Kickers), Mohamed Buya Turay - (AFC Eskilstuna Sweden).

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