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Sierra Leone players ‘scared’ of taking penalties because it’s about ‘life or death’ 

Sierra Leone captain Umaru Bangura said supporters will “torture you and vandalise your properties” if you miss a penalty for the Leone Stars.

Forward Kei Kamara’s house was recently targeted after he missed a penalty for Sierra Leone against Equatorial Guinea at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

His side lost the match 1-0 in Limbe when a draw would have seen them reach the knockout stages.

“Most of the boys have told me they’re now scared of taking penalties because of what has happened to two senior players in the team, myself and Kei Kamara,” Bangura told BBC Sport Africa.

Kamara’s house has been under police protection since January 21.

‘It’s a matter of life or death’

Jesus Owono saves Kei Kamara's penalty
Jesus Owono saved Kei Kamara’s penalty

Bangura saw his house targeted after missing a decisive stoppage-time spot-kick in a 2022 World Cup qualifier in September 2019.

It meant Sierra Leone failed to get through to the next stage of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

“I backed off from taking penalties for Leone Stars because it’s a matter of life and death for Sierra Leoneans,” said the 36-year-old who handed over penalty duties to Kamara after his miss.

“Nobody is 100 percent sure of scoring a penalty, so why would you step forward to take a penalty when you know that if you miss you are going to get hurt by your people?

“It’s normal for a player to miss a penalty, [Riyad] Mahrez, [Lionel] Messi and other big stars have missed penalties. [Franck] Kessie, who always scores a penalty for his club, missed against us when we played against Ivory Coast.”

‘I went through psychological torture’

Image shows a damaged Red Cross ambulance
Fans threw stones at Red Cross ambulances after Sierra Leone failed to qualify for the Worl Cup in 2019

Bangura considered retiring from international football after his spot-kick miss but was later persuaded to continue playing after the Sierra Leone FA provided funds to help carry out repairs on his house which was vandalised.

“When I missed a penalty against Liberia people insulted me, vandalised my house. I went through psychological torture for a year.

“I healed when we qualified for the Nations Cup for the first time in 25 years after defeating Benin in Conakry.

“I felt relieved when I skippered the team to qualification. I knew I had given my country something I lost before.”

“So I understand what Kamara is going through and his situation is the worst because he might not have anything again to give back to Sierra Leone and for Sierra Leoneans to forget about what has happened.”


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