'Sierra Leone success not appreciated' - Keister

3 months ago 3156
John KeisterJohn Keister lead Sierra Leone to their first Africa Cup of Nations appearance since 1996

Sierra Leone boss John Keister said "people didn't appreciate" his side's achievement in reaching the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

Reflecting on the Leone Stars' group-stage exit, a tearful Keister told BBC Africa: "I think as a country, with the group that I have, we overachieved in a short space of time.

"I worked so hard, but I found myself in an environment where I don't think people appreciate that."

The former Walsall defender led Sierra Leone to their first Nations Cup appearance in 26 years.

After group-stage draws with holders Algeria and two-time winners Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, ranked 108th in the world, needed just a point against Equatorial Guinea to reach the last 16.

But Keister's side fell short, losing 1-0 with veteran striker Kei Kamara seeing an 84th-minute penalty saved by Jesus Owono.

"It wasn't meant to be" added the 51-year-old.

"Expectations became very high. We achieved too early, but it's a good problem that we have to deal with."

'We want to qualify again'

Looking ahead to the next Afcon tournament in Ivory Coast in 2023, Keister added: "Our focus has to be grassroots, our focus has to be development.

"If we don't get it right down there, we are not getting it into the national team.

"We want to qualify again. I think it's important that we develop and we prepare right."

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