Vickie Remoe Institute of Digital Communications

Leone Stars AFCON 2023 Hopes Shattered!

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Over the years, African football has produced plenty of thrilling and dramatic encounters, and the recent match between Sierra Leone and Nigeria was a perfect example of the kind of heart-stopping action that fans across the continent love to see.

Sierra Leone went into the game with no other option than to stand and secure a win against one of the continent’s biggest teams if they should qualify for the 2023 AFCON in Ivory Coast. From the very first whistle, Leone Stars showed plenty of determination to make life difficult for their opponents.

To their credit, Nigeria looked to be in control in the early stages, with two goals from SSC Napoli’s Victor Osimhen giving them a 2-0 lead within the first half hour of the match. At that point, it looked like Sierra Leone’s evening was over, and Nigeria was set to cruise to another routine victory.

However, the Sierra Leoneans refused to give up and let their heads drop. They continued to push forward, determined to give their fans something to cheer about. A sharp strike from Mustapha Bundu after a great effort from Emmanuel Samadia just before half-time gave the Leone Stars hope, and suddenly the momentum shifted in their favour.

As the second half wore on, the pressure began to build on the Nigerian defence, and it wasn’t long before Sierra Leone found the equalizer they had been searching for. Augustus Kargbo was the hero of the moment,  slotting home the ball with just six minutes left in the game, sending the ecstatic supporters into raptures. 

For a brief moment, it looked like the impossible was about to happen. Sierra Leone had fought back from two goals down to level the score, and there was a genuine belief among the players and coaches that they could pull off a famous victory against one of Africa’s strongest teams.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. Thanks to a goal from Kelechi Iheanacho in the 90+5’ minutes of the game, breaking the hearts of the Sierra Leoneans and ending their dream of making it to the Ivory Coast 2023 Africa Cup of Nations. 

Despite the bitter disappointment, however, the Sierra Leone stars can hold their heads high. They may not have made it to the AFCON, but they showed extraordinary courage and resilience, fighting back from a seemingly hopeless situation to come tantalizingly close to a famous upset.

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