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Amidst controversy, Shooting Stars off to Accra

The national U-20 football team selected by the Sierra Leone Football Association left for Accra last evening on board a Kenya Airways Flight, amidst heated controversy ignited by sport minister Paul Kamara, who accused the SLFA of selecting an "illegal" team.

The team left Freetown following the intervention of Public Affairs minister Kemoh Sesay who asked his ministerial colleague to allow the team to make the trip to Accra. He said all issues raised by Minister Paul Kamara would be addressed upon the team’s return.

Preparations for the return leg of Sierra Leone's Under 20 football team's match against their Ghanaian counterparts were thrown into turmoil On Monday evening when Paul Kamara accused "some members of the SLFA" of involvement in match-fixing. He said his ministry had the evidence.

The minister alleged that the team lost the home leg of the match played in Bo because it was fixed.

In a letter to Sierra Leone's foreign ministry, Kamara described the team selected by the SLFA as illegal. He said his ministry had hired former East End Lions player Ato Mensah, "to take over immediately as coach of the Under-20 football team" for the Africa-wide competition and "lead us in the return match which will be played in Ghana on 24th May 2014".

He said his ministry "will soon meet with the Sierra Leone Police and the Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate these allegations".

From front page

Africa-wide competition and "lead us in the return match which will be played in Ghana on 24th May 2014".

The General Secretary of the Football Association, Chris Kamara confirmed to Politico on Monday that the Under 20 coaches Alimamy Turay and Charlie Wright will be in charge of the team for the second leg match in Accra this weekend. He said the FA would meet all financial requirements.

A senior football stakeholder told Politico last evening that the minister's allegations "are very serious indeed". He said if anybody was found culpable they "will be banned from football for life by FIFA".  Our source says he understands that FIFA recently wrote to the SLFA saying that some international matches involving Sierra Leone were being investigated over suspicions that they were fixed. He refused to be drawn on the details. But he said the minister should be "very careful about making such extremely serious allegations".

(C) Politico 21/05/14