The Blue Sharks hoping to build on 2013 Afcon success to qualify for the first time to the World Cup as they face the Leone Stars in Praia
The Tubarões Azuis (Blue Sharks) of Cape Verde and the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone will battle it out on Saturday evening in the 5th fixture of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers in Praia, Cape Verde.
Both sides have never qualified for the World Cup before and while the hosts have only made it to one Africa Cup of Nations tournament, the visitors have been there twice.
Cape Verde were the surprise packages of the 2013 edition in South Arica where the 500 000 populated nation reached the quarter-finals against all odds at the expense of previous World Cup participants Morocco and Angola but Sierra Leone did not make it.
A large proportion of players in both squads are based overseas, in Asia, Europe and the Americas, but Cape Verde have a large number of its players having been born away from the islands as well.
Having secured only three points in their last four outings, Cape Verde will not want to lose this weekend, especially after FIFA’s decision last week gave them three points and three goals in the first match against Equatorial Guinea because the latter fielded a large number of naturalised players.
Now Cape Verde have some good chances to qualify and will hunt the win on Saturday in order to reach second place of the group and hope Tunisia lose to Equatorial Guinea, thus paving way for both countries to fight it out on Match Day 6 in a winner takes all battle.
Coach Lucio Antunes has reshaped and refreshed his squad bringing in Platini and Djaniny to replace lone striker, Mendes, who is out injured while inspirational34-year-old captain Fernando Neves will be seen at centre-back giving instructions to youngsters; Da Graca, Varela and Nivaldo or have his slot given to Gegé. The coach will opt for a 4-4-2 formation rather than the traditional 4-5-1 they usually play.
Sierra Leone gave away the lead twice against Tunisia in Freetown last weekend in a match that could have probably been a determiner towards their 2014 World Cup qualifying hopes, but coach Mckinstry is optimistic his squad still has a chance to progress to the next stage despite trailing the Tunisians by five points with two matches remaining.
Leone Stars will be without suspended player Sheriff Suma while Gibril Barrel Sankoh is available after serving a match ban for two bookings. Both star strikers, Ibrahim Tetteh Bangura and Kei Ansu Kamara have been ruled out due to injuries and Mustapha Hadji Bangura will likely be given the nod upfront to twin with Mohamed Poborsky Bangura while one or two players will be given a debut at least as substitutes.