Newly appointed Coach of Sierra Leone’s National Football Team, Leone Stars has acknowledged his appointment stating that he is delighted to have been given the opportunity to serve his country as Coach of the national football side.
Atto Mensah who replaced Johnny Mickinstry who was sacked last week, told BBC Sports that even though the job is daunting, he sees it as a challenge and a honour to serve his country. He promised to do the job “to the best of my ability” he told BBC Sport.
The former Sierra Leone international will oversee Leone Stars’ four remaining group qualifiers for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
The Ghanaian-born first challenge comes when his boys face current group leader, Cameroon in the AFCON qualifier after the team lost two successive matches in the group to Ivory Coast and DR Congo respectively.
Mensah will be assisted by former Leone Stars skipper, John Sama, who played in both the 1994 and 1996 Africa Cup of Nations.
As player, Mensah was among the first batch of Ghanaians who went to Sierra Leone in 1980 to play for different top-tier league clubs.
He played for East End Lions, where he excelled and became a household name in Sierra Leone after winning two league titles in 1980 and 1985.
Mensah was naturalised as a Sierra Leonean in 1987 and made his international debut in a 2-0 win against Nigeria’s Super Eagles in Freetown in the 1988 Nations Cup qualifiers, providing the assistance for the second goal.
He went on to play five more matches for Leone Stars in the 1988: West African regional Zone II football tournament in Guinea Bissau, before he departed for Europe the following year.
The appointment of Atto Mensah has raised some concerns among members of the public with regards his qualification, especially when it is established that he has never coached any club or a National team.
Atto Mensah acquired a UEFA-B trainer- coach certificate from the Dutch football authorities. The course, which took place in The Netherlands, was for former professional footballers. It lasted for about eight months (September 2012 -15th May 2013).
Information gathered have it that he went through the course alongside former Nigerian international, Finidi George, which lend credence to the importance of the course. The current Nigeria’s Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi did the same course in The Netherlands.
By Bernard Turay
Tuesday September 23, 2014