Leone Stars Captain Umaru Bangura and Panthers of Gabon Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
By Mohamed Fajah Barrie in USA
Sierra Leone will host Gabon in the return leg of their 2017 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) friendly fixture in Freetown on Monday at 16:30 GMT.
The match will be officiated by Senegalese referees is part of the 2017 AFCON group I qualifying schedule but doesn’t count towards qualification as Gabon are hosting the finals in January.
Leone Stars under the control of Coach Sellas Tetteh will go into the match with the aim of avenging their 2-1 defeat they suffered in the first leg held in the Gabonese city of Franceville last Friday.
The two teams are now in Freetown for the match and expected to largely maintain their squad for the first leg encounter.
The Panthers of Gabon will be led by the African player of the year Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who scored a goal in the first leg encounter.
Leone Stars will be skippered by Umaru ‘Zingalay’ Bangura but will play without Moldova based Aziz Deen-Conteh who was sent off in the first leg.
Gabon ranked 32 places above Sierra Leone in the Fifa ranking, will go into the match on the backdrop of two wins against Leone Stars and Sudan and a draw with the African champions Ivory Coast.
Sierra Leone on the other other hand have lost two games to Sudan and Gabon respectively and drew with Ivory Coast.
History favours Leone Stars to win at home as they have won their two previous meetings in Freetown in 1997 in a 1998 World Cup qualifier and in 2002 in a 2014 AFCON qualifier.
Overall, the two teams have met five times before with Gabon winning all the three matches they hosted in 1995, 2003 and 2016 and Sierra Leone winning the two already mentioned games.
22 Oct 1995 Gabon 1-0 Sierra Leone International friendly
11 Jan 1997 Sierra Leone 1-0 Gabon FIFA World Cup qualifier
08 Jun 1997 Gabon Vs Sierra Leone FIFA World Cup qualifier (Cancelled)
12 Oct 2002 Sierra Leone 2-0 Gabon Africa Cup of Nations qualifier
06 Jul 2003 Gabon 2-0 Sierra Leone Africa Cup of Nations qualifier
25 Mar 2016 Gabon 2-1 Sierra Leone International friendly
Sierra Leone are currently bottom of group I with one point from two games behind leaders Ivory Coast who have four points with the same number of games and Sudan are in second place with three points.
Only the top team in the group at the end of the qualifiers will qualify for the finals.
Referee: Daouda Gueye (Senegal)
AR 1: Ababacar Sene (Senegal)
AR 2: Elhadji Abdoul Aziz Gueye (Senegal)