By Mohamed Fajah Barrie in Douala
Sierra Leonean international Sullay Kakai says he’s honoured to play at the Africa Cup of Nations despite his country exiting the tournament in Cameroon at the group stage.
The 26-year old featured in two of Leone Stars’ three group games against Algeria and Ivory Coast respectively and was an unused sub against Equatorial Guinea.
“It’s a massive honour to play at the afcon,” Kaikai told Sierra Leone Football.com.
“It’s a competition I have been watching from a young age, so to participate in it is amazing.”
“On the international stage not many can say that, so for me it’s a pride for me and my family and one that I cherish.”
Leone Stars drew with both Algeria (0-0) and Ivory Coast (2-2) in Douala before they were defeated 1-0 by Equatorial Guinea 1-0 in Limbe to exit the Afcon finals at group stage for the third time in their third appearance.
Kaikai, the former Crystal Palace winger insists they’re disappointed but they’ve learnt their lessons.
“It’s disappointing to exit the tournament at group stage but we’ve come a long way, our first tournament in 25 years.”
“We’ve shown the world that we can compete. So our aim is to hopefully be back at the Afcon next year and go as far as we can.”
“We’ve learnt from our mistakes, key moments in games, know how to manage it, so you can get the upper hand and I think and once we get control of that we’ll be alright,” he added.
Leone Stars are yet to know their opponent for their next competitive fixture but it’s surely going to a 2023 Afcon qualifier in June.
“We just have to regroup, come together like I said, learn from this tournament where we can improve on and try and get better next time,” stated Kaikai.
Kaikai who currently plays for English league one side Wycombe Wanderers made his international debut in a 1-0 win over Benin in June in Conakry in Leone Stars’ final group game in the 2021 Afcon qualifiers.
The goal came from the penalty spot converted by veteran star striker Kai Kamara to qualify Leone Stars for their first major tournament since the Afcon finals in South Africa 1996.
At club level, he had spells with several other English clubs Crawley Town, Cambridge United, Shrewsbury Town, Brentford and Blackpool as well as Dutch team NAC Breda.