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African Nations Championship

Chan 2023 Qualifiers: Liberia President Weah lauded for allowing Sierra Leone free stadium use

20:46 GMT+3 26/08/2022
Liberia President George Weah.
The West African country has no approved facility as their Freetown ground is undergoing long-term renovations

Liberia's President George Weah has been lauded for allowing Sierra Leone to use the Samuel Kanyon Doe (SKD) sports complex free of charge.

Leone Stars will host Mali in an African Nations Championship (Chan) qualifier on Saturday at the ground in Paynesville. Bo Rangers and Kallon FC – Sierra Leone clubs - will host their Caf Champions League and Confederation Cup matches at the facility in September as well.

League champions Bo Rangers are due to meet Algeria's CR Belouizdad from 9-11 September, while Kallon FC will battle Buffles du Borgou from Benin a week later.

The Sierra Leone Football Association's secretary-general, Christopher Kamara, had requested the Liberia Football Association for use of SKD. Liberia’s sports minister, Zeogar Wilson, followed up on the request with President Weah, who ordered the Ministry of Youth and Sports not to charge Sierra Leone.

"We have received the President's mandate, which frees Sierra Leone from paying rental fees," deputy sports minister Andy Quamie told BBC Sport Africa.

"They will only be responsible for match-related expenses for all their home games in Liberia."

Initially, Liberia could not host international matches, but an improvement with an estimated cost of $2 million (£1.69m) saw the ban lifted on the SKD. On July 24, Liberia hosted Senegal in a Chan qualifier at the stadium when the country hosted its first international match since 2019.

Sierra Leone’s Siaka Stevens Stadium in Freetown will not be operational until 2024 and this forced the Leone Stars to host Guinea-Bissau in an Afcon qualifier in Conakry, Guinea in June. During a Chan qualifier against Cape Verde, they played in Marrakech, Morocco.

"This is good news from President Weah in the spirit of African solidarity and good neighbourliness," former LFA vice president Wilmot Smith said.

"He is leading by example because he knows what it takes to play away from home. Sierra Leone will initially be saving $45,000 for their three matches if we were to apply the rate from Ghana.

"That amount will certainly increase if you add the differences in airfare from Freetown to Rabat and Freetown to Monrovia. Who knows, they can even drive to Monrovia and save more money."

Liberia were once charged $20,000 to rent the Accra Sports Stadium for a 2022 World Cup qualifier last October by Ghana’s Sports Council, but that fee was reduced by $5,000 after Wilson’s appeals.