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Keister lauds improved approach as Sierra Leone put TotalEnergies AFCON hopes on track

Sierra Leone head coach John Keister has lauded his team for an improved approach after a 2-0 win over Sao Tome put their hopes of qualifying for the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations on track.

The Sierra Leonians learnt their lessons from last week’s draw where they twice had to come from behind to pick out a point against Sao Tome, and in the return fixture played in Agadir on Sunday, they put in an improved first-half performance to clinch three points.

With a win on match day four, Sierra Leone has moved to five points at third in Group A, one behind Nigeria who faces Guinea Bissau in the other group match.

“I felt we did very well today. In the first half, we set up really well because Sao Tome is not a bad side. We had to change a few things around the first leg and we started better compared to the first match. The message to the boys was very clear that if we could start this first half the way we played the second half last weekend, we stood a chance,” Keister said after the match.

His sentiments were echoed by skipper Steve Caulker. “Today was a must-win for us especially after we saw the Nigeria result. We know that we have to win all three games. I believe in the squad, I believe in the coach and I hope we can make the nation proud.”

First-half goals from Abubakar Samura and Alhassan Koroma gave the Leone Stars maximum points and a huge result on their dream to the Cup of Nations.

They got into the lead just seven minutes into the game when Samura powered the ball home from inside the box after Mustapha Bundu nodded down a freekick from the left.

Bundu almost doubled the tally on the quarter-hour mark when he found some shooting space on the right, but the effort came off the outside of the post.

They eventually doubled their lead after 27 minutes when Koroma struck a long-range shot on his left foot, the venomous strike slipping under the keeper’s arms.

In the second half, Sao Tome came back stronger and pushed to get back into the game. They, however, couldn’t hit the target and the closest they came was when Hernane Spirito picked out a cutback just outside the six-yard area but blew his shot over.

Sao Tome’s hopes of qualification are now almost blown as they sit bottom of the group with a single point.

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