Bafana Bafana-Sierra Leone jeopardised by visa fiasco

The West Africans, without a win in their last three games, will be hoping to get to Johannesburg in time

Bafana Bafana’s planned friendly against Sierra Leone is in doubt as the West Africans are currently stuck with visa problems.

The Leone Stars are due to face Hugo Broos’ charges at the FNB Stadium on Saturday but have yet to arrive in Johannesburg after struggling to obtain travel documents in time.

“We had difficulty obtaining visas to South Africa, which caused our delay in getting there,” said Sierra Leone Football Association media chief Ibrahim Kamara, as quoted by KickOff.

“Originally we had counted on Safa [South African Football Association] to provide us with a covering letter to enable us to travel and obtain visas on arrival.

“But then it didn’t happen, so we had to leave Sierra Leone and come to Ghana. But yesterday was a public holiday here, so the embassy is not open.”

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Kamara explained that the travel challenge was caused by the inaction of the South African Football Association, which delayed facilitating their trip.

“We were hoping to get an umbrella permit from the South African embassy through Safa, but we waited and waited until we had to come to Ghana,” he added.

“Normally, immigration issues should be left to the host association to make entry smooth, but that’s not what happened.

“We will now arrive in Johannesburg tomorrow [Friday] Tomorrow (06:00).

“Here we have seven players with Sierra Leonean passports, including three foreign-based players and officials.”

The federation official hopes they can make it in time for the friendly against the former Africa Cup of Nations champions.

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“However, we have been assured that we will receive our visas this morning and once that is done we will be traveling later today,” the media officer concluded.

“We spoke to the consulate yesterday and were reassured that we would get the visas today and we booked our direct flight for tonight.”

Sierra Leone head coach John Keister was forced to make changes to his squad after Alhassan Koroma – originally earmarked as one of South Africa’s midfielders – faced a travel challenge. His place was filled by East End Lions winger Prince Barrie.

However, the presence of captain Steven Caulker, who recently joined Turkish Super Lig club Fatih Karagumruk on a free transfer, is a boost.

“Twelve of our players, including the captain [Steven] Caulkers using European passports are already in South Africa,” explained Kamara.

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“There are direct flights from Europe and they don’t have to go through the same visa process as us, so their arrangements were simpler.

“The coach and his technical assistant are already in Johannesburg.”

Leone Stars – who have shared the spoils with Bafana in three of their last four games – will seek their second win against their opponent in the FIFA international break.

Broos will lead his side in another friendly against Botswana on Tuesday, while Sierra Leone will take on DRC in the second game of the break.

Bafana friendly in doubt as visa problems hit stranded Sierra Leone

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