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Afcon 2021: Sierra Leone overachieved but ‘I don't think people appreciate that’ – Keister

12:09 GMT+3 02/02/2022
Sierra Leone coach John Keister during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
The former Walsall defender insists the Leone Stars achieved beyond many people’s expectations in their Afcon campaign in Cameroon

Sierra Leone boss John Keister has maintained the country has overachieved despite leaving the Africa Cup of Nations after the group stage.

First of all, the Leone Stars qualified for their first Afcon appearance in 26 years, from a qualifying group that involved Nigeria, Benin and Lesotho and then in Cameroon, they almost reached the Round of 16 but failed after striker Kei Kamara missed from the penalty spot.

Sierra Leone went into the game against Equatorial Guinea needing a point to qualify and while trailing 1-0, they were awarded a penalty in the 84th minute which the 37-year-old Kamara failed to convert as it was saved by goalkeeper Jesus Owono.

“I think as a country, with the group that we had, we overachieved in a short space of time,” Keister told BBC Africa. “I worked so hard, but I found myself in an environment where I don't think people appreciate that.”

On the missed penalty which denied them a Round of 16 spot, the 51-year-old Keister said: “It wasn't meant to be. Expectations became very high. We achieved too early, but it's a good problem that we have to deal with.”

Keister insists, his main focus is to make sure that Sierra Leone make it to the next Afcon in Ivory Coast.

“We have to look at home and develop the league system, in terms of the clubs, how we develop these players in different positions, roles and responsibilities,” Keister continued.

“That would help the national team, because when you have a pool of players, then it becomes competitive. If we don't get it right down there, we are not getting it into the national team.

“We want to qualify again. I think it's important that we develop and we prepare right.”

In Cameroon, they kicked off their campaign with a 0-0 draw against Algeria, they then forced a 2-2 draw against Ivory Coast before falling 1-0 to Equatorial Guinea.