Sierra Leone announce two sets of rival coaches for Afcon games

By Mohamed Fajah BarrieBBC Sport, Freetown
Sierra Leone Team
Sierra Leone team

A row over coaching staff has broken out in Sierra Leone with the country's Football Association (SLFA) and sports ministry announcing two separate sets of coaches to take charge of the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Cameroon.

The move has thrown Sierra Leone's preparations for the games in Yaounde on 11 October and 15 October into disarray.

The SLFA has appointed John Ajina Sesay as care-taker coach. He will be assisted by Abdulai Bah.

It comes 16 days after another former Sierra Leone International, Atto Mensah, was appointed as coach of the team by the country's Sports ministry to replace the sacked Northern Irishman, Jonathan Mckinstry. Former Leone Stars skipper John Sama was named as Mensah's assistant.

Mensah has already named his squad for the two matches. But the SLFA's head of media and marketing, Abu Bakarr Kamara, says they have appointed a new coach because Mensah was not qualified for the job.

"After receiving Mensah' s curriculum vitae we decided to write to the Dutch FA and we have found out that he's not qualified for the job," Kamara told BBC Sport.

"He has a Uefa Diploma B coaching license which only qualifies him to coach a second division team in an amateur league.

"It's not equivalent to the Caf (Confederation of African Football) B license, the minimum requirement Caf ask for."

"That's why we've rejected his appointment and have gone further to appoint Sesay as coach of the Leone Stars for only the two games against Cameroon.

"We are retaining all the players already invited by Mensah because we don't have much time left for the Cameroon game and Sesay may add just a few players onto the list."

But Sierra Leone's Sports ministry, who pay the wages of the Leone Stars coach, insist that Mensah and his assistant John Sama will be in charge of the team for the four remaining group qualifiers.

Deputy Sports minister Ismail Al Sankoh Conteh told BBC Sport:

"We know both Mensah and Sama are qualified and they'll take us through the remaining matches in the qualifiers."

"The appointment of these coaches was done by both the ministry and the SLFA, so they just want to confuse themselves.

"We're not bothered with their appointments. We'll take our coaches to Cameroon."

Kamara claims the SLFA were not part of the decision to appoint Mensah and Sama.

He said the ministry informed them in a meeting about their choices and in return they requested for the curriculum vitae of the coaches.

The two bodies have now vowed to take their own coaches to Yaounde.

Mensah and Sama are due to fly directly to Yaounde from their respective locations in Europe while Sesay and Bah are scheduled to depart from Freetown.

The Leone Stars are currently bottom of group D in the qualifiers after losing their first two matches to Ivory Coast and Democratic Republic of Congo last month, which resulted in the sacking of Mckinstry.

This is the latest dispute between the current SLFA administration and the sports ministry in a growing list of recent controversies.

The now-suspended SLFA executive committee member, Morrison Sannoh, was stopped at Freetown airport and prevented from travelling with the Leone Stars to Swaziland for a 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on the orders of Sports minister Paul Kamara in May.

Also in May the two bodies appointed separate coaches for the country's Under 20 national team Shooting Stars' 2015 Caf U-20 championship qualifying match against Ghana.

The previous SLFA administration was also at loggerheads with the country's sports ministry several times over the appointment of coaches and the running of the team's matches.