A 94th minute penalty miss by Sierra Leonean captain, Umaru Bangura, meant the Leone Stars will wait another four years to stake a claim for football’s biggest stage, the FIFA World Cup.
Sierra Leoneans were left devastated amid anticipation for qualification after the Burkinabe referee pointed for a penalty for Leone Stars in the 93rd minute, following a foul on Mohamed Buya Turay by two Liberian defenders in the area.
Umaru Bangura who doubles as the team captain subsequently missed the penalty, which could have taken the Leone Stars to the group stage of qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
After a stalemate of first half action, Sierra Leone and Colorado Rapids marksman, Kei Ansu Kamara’s 54th minute goal gave the Leone Stars a lifeline and made the thousands of home football fans believe qualification is possible.
The Liberians created some moments of panic for Sierra Leone in the middle of the second half with a couple of half chances caused by defensive blunders.
The inclusion of Mohamed Buya Turay and Simeon Kaku changed things a little, despite the former getting the opportunity, which almost took Sierra Leone to the qualifiers.
Sierra Leone was looking to overturn a two-goal deficit in Wednesday’s 3-1 loss in the first leg at the Samuel K. Doe Stadium in Monrovia. Terrence Tisdell and Mohammed Sangare slotted home Liberia’s penalties in each half, with captain Sam Johnson capitalising on a defensive fumble to give Liberia a two-goal lead ahead of today’s meeting.
Sierra Leone”s Ghanian trainer, Sellas Tetteh Teive, said, the team was much better this time than the first leg and played with great purpose and determination.
“The team overall played quite well but we just failed in the last kick” he remarked.
“Liberia is a very good opponent, they made things very hard for us especially when they conceded the goal” he concluded.
“The match could have gone on either side”, explains Liberian coach, Peter Butler, during the post-match press conference. The Englishman commended the Leone Stars for a very good performance though his side qualified at the end of the two ties.
“Leone Stars played direct and very well, Liberia were a bit sloppy” he noted
Sierra Leone failed to make the group stage of qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup in Russia after losing on away goal against Chad Republic in 2015.
Sellas Tetteh’s next focus now is to get the team ready for the 2021 AFCON qualifying in a group involving Nigeria, Benin and Lesotho