The U-20 National Team is expected to depart the shores of Freetown yesterday for Malaysia to participate in the Merdeka Tournament which kicks off today. The competition is organized by the Malaysia Football Federation
Sierra Leone would be in group A with Nepal, Malaysia and Afghanistan
In Group B, the teams are Mozambique, Myanmar, Vietnam and Bangladesh.
Malaysia is currently ranked 160 in the FIFA list while Sierra Leone is ranked at 133. The Shooting Stars is expected to be Malaysia’s main rival in the group, while Nepal (175) and Afghanistan (182) are not seen as a threat. In Group B, Mozambique, ranked 100th, the highest ranked team in the tournament, is expected to make it through to the semi-finals while Myanmar (157), and Vietnam (165) would provide the challenge for them since minnows Bangladesh (179) cannot be seen as a title contender
For record purpose, on August 1993, Malaysia were in 75th position on the FIFA world rankings that comprised 199 countries, but dropped to 170th position in April this year, the worst ever drop for Malaysian football.
Meanwhile, Malaysia is now ranked 29th in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) rankings, compared with Thailand (16), Singapore (20), Indonesia (21) and Myanmar in 27th spot.
The Sierra Leone delegation comprises of 18 players and 6 officials; the officials are Joseph S Kelfala, leader of delegation; Abubakarr Kabba, Team Administrator; Manuel R Bliches, Head Coach; Alimamy Turay, Asst Coach; Morrison Sannoh, Team Co-coordinator and James Fofanah, Welfare Officer.
The players are Lansana Jalloh, Mohamed Kanu, Salifu Samura, Issa Kamara, Mohamed Kabia, Dwight Foray, Sulaiman Kamara, Gibrilla Fofanah, Ibrahim Kargbo, Alfree Sanu, Fouad Kamara, Alusine Turay, Khomson Kamara, Lahai Chandus Freeman,
Morlai Sesay, Ayo King, Mamadu Lajor Bah, and Amara Kamara.