These guys deserve no mercy. I say these to Ghanaians who are concerned about the current footballing situation in Sierra Leone. It is country in so much football brouhaha, but it is a country Ghana must never empathize with, at least when it comes to football.
And here is why!
In March 1987, Ghana Black Stars were billed to face the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone in a titanic match. It was the eliminations to the 1988 African Cup of Nations that was to be hosted by Morocco
The Sierra Leone had serious economic crisis during the period leading to the shortage of several basic commodities.
The then government of Sierra Leone, led by Joseph Saidu Momoh implored on the Sierra Leone Football Association to abandon the match because the country had no funds to finance the trip to Accra. It was reported that the Sierra Leone FA had to put their budget together and invited philantropists to donate for a flight to Ghana.
Four days to the game and there were still serious doubts on whether or not the match could come off.
The Ghanaian team had arrived in Accra and begun preparations under German coach Rudi Gutendorf nonetheless.
With days heading to the match, Ghana’s legendary sports administrator, Ohene Djan passed on and the country’s sports fraternity thrown into sorrow.
Ghana needed a game to honour his death and the Black Stars were already in town.
But hearing of the Sierra situation and the possibility of the game being cancelled, Ghanaian military leader JJ Rawlings offered a special jet to fly the Sierra Leone team in and out with the assurance that Ghana would wallop them, honour Ohene Djan and ultimately brighten the Black Stars chances of qualifying for the 1988 AFCON in Morocco.
Ghana even offered the Sierra Leoneans free accommodation and meals at the old Republic Hotel.
Sierra Leone had already abandoned their preparations but on receiving the kind gesture from Ghana, they regrouped but petitioned the Ghana FA to grant them another favour. They wrote asking for the game to be moved from Sunday to Monday 30th March 1987 just so they get 24 more hours to put themselves together for the game.
The Ghanaian jet flew to Freetown on Saturday and returned to Accra same evening with 18 Lone Stars players and 5 technical team members plus 6 FA and Salone Sports Ministry officials.
The team practiced briefly at the Accra Stadium on Sunday and returned to their hotel.
Instead of the usual Black and white jersey, The Black Stars wore an all-red outfit on the day and had Black armbands in honour of Ohene Djan.
The Accra stadium was filled to rafters with fans expecting a whitewash of the beleaguered Lone Stars. But Salone had other ideas.
When Gambian referee Samuel Coker blew his whistle for the commencement of the game, it were the Sierra Leoneans who attacked Ghana and forced goalkeeper Mohammed Oddom into a save in the 2nd minute.
Salone had two corner kicks in the 4th minute and by the 5th minute, their captain John Dumbuya had scored. Ghana pressed for 40 minutes without the equaliser.
In fact it was the Sierra Leoneans who could have added another in the 38th minute when Siaka Camara’s volley hit the upright.
Ten minutes after recess, Sierra Leone scored again from a swift counter-attack to make it 2-0 and still pressed to score more to the agony of the home fans
Ghana had a consolation in the 80th minute through Golden Boy Abdul Razak but it was too late.
A shell-shocked bunch of fans left the Accra Stadium dejected and cursed authorities for using taxpayers money to fund these Sierra Leoneans who clearly showed no gratitude.
The return leg in Freetown ended goalless, essentially eliminating Ghana from the 1988 AFCON.
Had we refused to fund their trip, Ghana would have automatically quantified to the next stage without kicking a ball. But our brazen courage, arrogance and unbridled impudence had caused us.
A team we flew, fed and housed, successfully staged one of our biggest shocks in football.
Since then, no government or FA has ever dreamt of repeating that weird mistake in this country, even after George Weah’s Liberia asked Ghana for a similar favor in 2001. ‘First fool no be fool’.
Familiar circumstances surround this upcoming Ghana vs Sierra Leone AFCON encounter. Sierra is engulfed in a mess. Their League has been abandoned for four seasons. Their FA is bankrupt and has no leadership.
FIFA has further suspended them and remains unclear whether they can fly to Ghana for the match on Thursday.
Like a repeat of the 1987 incident, the Salone FA has written to Ghana, begging us to move the game one day ahead, and allow them resolve their situation.
But lest we forget! These guys deserve NO sympathy. History is a good teacher.
By Saddick Adams/Atinka media village