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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2021: Sierra Leoneans see penalties as ‘matter of life and death’ - Umaru Bangura

21:59 EAT 01/02/2022
Equatorial Guinea captain Emilio Nsue Lopez and Kei Kamara of Sierra Leone.
The Leone Stars skipper revealed that his international teammates are now scared of taking kicks from the penalty spot following Kei Kamara’s ordeal

Sierra Leoneans see penalties as a matter of ‘life and death’, according to the captain of the Leone Stars Umaru Bangura.

The Neuchatel Xamax man saw his house vandalised after he missed a stoppage-time spot-kick in a 2022 World Cup qualifier against Liberia in September 2019.

It was the turn of Kei Kamara to see his house targeted after missing a penalty in the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations against Equatorial Guinea in Limbe.

Had the 37-year-old converted his kick against the Nzalang National, the score would have tied at 1-1 and the West Africans would have qualified for the Round of 16.

In a chat with BBC Sport Africa, Bangura stated that his international teammates are now scared of taking penalties.

"Most of the boys have told me they're now scared of taking penalties because of what has happened to two senior players in the team, myself and Kei Kamara," he said.

"I backed off from taking penalties for Leone Stars because it's a matter of life and death for Sierra Leoneans.

"Nobody is 100 per cent sure of scoring a penalty, so why would you step forward to take a penalty when you know that if you miss you are going to get hurt by your people?

"It's normal for a player to miss a penalty, [Riyad] Mahrez, [Lionel] Messi and other big stars have missed penalties. [Franck] Kessie, who always scores a penalty for his club, missed against us when we played against Ivory Coast."

Bangura further explained the psychological trauma he went through as he considered retiring from international football, but he was persuaded by the Sierra Leone Football Association to continue playing.

"When I missed a penalty against Liberia people insulted me, vandalised my house. I went through psychological torture for a year,” the 34-year-old added.

"I healed when we qualified for the Nations Cup for the first time in 25 years after defeating Benin in Conakry.

"I felt relieved when I skippered the team to qualification. I knew I had given my country something I lost before."

"So I understand what Kamara is going through and his situation is the worst because he might not have anything again to give back to Sierra Leone and for Sierra Leoneans to forget about what has happened."