Sierra Leone coach John Keister defends national team training sessions

John Keister

Former international John Keister took over as Sierra Leone’s head coach in May 2017 before being suspended three months later

Sierra Leone coach John Keister has had to defend holding national team training this week.

The sessions, which included USA-based striker Kei Kamara, went ahead despite questions over the coach’s reinstatement by a non-Fifa recognised Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA).

The same SLFA committee invited players to train with Keister to prepare for an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Ethiopia, unaware the game had been moved from March to September..

The second round of 2019 qualifiers were moved by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) in order to help the continent’s World Cup-bound teams

“I wasn’t really aware of the change of dates in the qualifiers, but prior to the change we already wanted to do training around the festive season,” the 47-year-old coach told BBC Sport.

“I don’t feel embarrassed about it. That date is a Fifa calendar date and we might have a friendly international game on that date.”

“Most of our foreign players normally come to Freetown this time on holiday.

“So it’s a good time for both the foreign and home based players to come together and work around lots of stuff in training that we don’t normally have enough time for during the international calendar period.”

“We’ll continue to have training sessions because there’s no league to keep the home based players fit and competitive.

“There is so much work we have to do with these local based players. It’s doesn’t happen within two to three months, it’ll take us between six to 12 months to get them to the level we want them to be.”