In August this year, the three-year contract of John Keister, the head coach of the Sierra Leone men’s national football team, will come to an end, and that has left Sierra Leoneans curious about whether the Sierra Leone Football Association’s (SLFA) will be extending his contract or not.
Keister, a former Sierra Leonean international, took over as the head coach of the Leone Stars, in 2020, replacing Sellas Tetteh, a Ghanaian coach who resigned in March 2020, due to personal reasons.
As Keister’s tenure as a coach draws to a close, discussions emerged on various social media platforms regarding his future with the team. His tenure was marked by several disappointments, as he only managed to win 25 per cent of the matches he oversaw, securing victory in four out of 16 games.
Despite the challenges, Keister did make an impact by guiding the national team to qualify for the 2021 African Cup of Nations, for the first time in 25 years. However, their hopes of qualifying for the 2023 African Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast were dashed when they lost to the Super Eagles of Nigeria by 3:2 in Monrovia, Liberia, about two weeks ago.
This is not Keister’s first time as head coach of Leone Stars. He was initially appointed for the same role in 2017. Prior to his national team position, he served as the head coach of the East End Lions Football Club from 2018 to 2020, leading them to victory in the Sierra Leone Premier League in 2019.
Keister’s coaching experience also includes managing F.C. Johansen, as well as serving as an assistant coach for the national team under three foreign managers: Sellas Tetteh from Ghana, Lars Olof Matsson from Sweden, and Johnny McKinstry from Northern Ireland. He also held the position of head coach for the Leone Stars’ home-based team, the Sierra Leone under-17 and under-23 teams.
Keister began his football career in 1992 before moving to the United Kingdom. As a player, he represented clubs such as Walsall, Chester City, Shrewsbury Town, Stevenage Borough, Margate, and Dover Athletic. He earned 16 international caps for Sierra Leone between 1997 and 2003, participating in two World Cup qualifications against Morocco and Nigeria, although he did not score any goals.
As the SLFA deliberates on the future of the national team’s coaching staff, Sierra Leoneans eagerly await the decision, hoping for a positive direction that will bring continued progress and success to Leone Stars.