Afcon 2021: Ex-England defender Steven Caulker named in Sierra Leone squad

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Steven Caulker pictured in training for Sierra LeoneSteven Caulker, who has played his club football in Turkey since 2019, has already played for Sierra Leone in an unofficial friendly match

One-time England defender Steven Caulker is set to make his competitive debut for Sierra Leone after being named in their squad for the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, which kicks of on 9 January.

The 30-year old, who is currently on loan to Turkish club Gaziantep from rivals Fenerbahce, is among the 28 men picked by Leone Stars coach John Keister.

The former Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool centre-back won his sole England cap in 2012 and also represented Great Britain at the 2012 London Olympics.

He qualifies for Sierra Leone through his paternal grandfather and was cleared to play for the west Africans by world governing body Fifa earlier in December.

"Steven Caulker will bring a lot more experience in the squad, particularly at the back," Keister told BBC Sport Africa.

"He'll bring a bit more height in the defence, more talking in the field and he'll help us in terms of which way we want to go and gearing everyone at their work.

"He will support the older guys in the team, which gives us a spine right through the middle."

Former Norwich forward Kei Kamara, the fifth all-time leading goal scorer in America's Major League Soccer, is also in included as well as former Dutch youth international Issa Kallon, who has also switched allegiance.

Also making the cut is 34-year-old former Bolton Wanderers midfielder Mohamed Kamara, who is currently without a club.

QPR defender Osman Kakay, Peterborough United's Idris Kanu, Wycombe winger Sullay Kaikai and David Sesay of English non-league side Wealdstone are all named in the squad.

"We are happy with the squad we've selected and I think we've put a good group of players together," Keister added. "Hopefully that's good enough to go and compete in the Nations Cup."

Notably omissions from the squad are former AC Milan midfielder Rodney Strasser and ex-Partick Thistle defender Mustapha Dumbuya.

The tournament in Cameroon will be Sierra Leone's third appearance in the Africa Cup of Nations finals and their first since 1996.

Leone Stars have been drawn in Group E alongside defending champions Algeria, two-time champions Ivory Coast and 2015 semi-finalists Equatorial Guinea.

Sierra Leone will open their campaign against Algeria in Douala on January 11.

Sierra Leone squad for Afcon 2021

Goalkeepers: Mohamed N Kamara (East End Lions, Sierra Leone), Ibrahim Sesay (Bo Rangers, Sierra Leone), Isaac Caulker (FC Kallon, Sierra Leone).

Defenders: Yeami Dunia, Saidu Mansaray (both Bo Rangers, Sierra Leone), Osman Kakay (QPR, England) Kevin Wright (Unattached), Steven Caulker (Gaziantep, Turkey), David Sesay (Wealdstone, England), Umaru Bangura (Neuchatel Xamax, Switzerland), Deniel Francis (Rot Weiss Ahlen, Germany).

Midfielders: Mohamed Kamara (Unattached), John Bankole Kamara (Kesla, Azerbaijan), Abu Dumbuya (East End Lions, Sierra Leone), Saidu Bah Kamara, Prince Barrie (both Bo Rangers, Sierra Leone), Kwame Quee (Vikingur Reykjavic, Iceland), Saidu Fofana (FC Kallon, Sierra Leone), Issa Kallon (SC Cambuur, Netherlands), Idris Kanu (Peterborough United, England), Alhassan Koroma (Real Balompedica Linense, Spain).

Forwards: Musa Noah Kamara (Bo Rangers, Sierra Leone), Augustine Williams (LA Galaxy, USA), Mustapha Bundu (AGF, Denmark), Alhaji Kamara (Randers, Denmark), Sullay Kaikai (Wycombe Wanderers, England), Mohamed Buya Turay (Henan Songshan, China), Kei Ansu Kamara (HIFK, Finland).

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