KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kei Kamara has never been shy about taking on opposing defenders, either in club play or with his national team.
The Sporting Kansas City winger has also shown himself unafraid to criticize the sports establishment in his native country, and vented his frustrations once more on Tuesday after Sierra Leone failed to advance out of their World Cup qualifying group.
“I don't think our federation has prepared us well enough to qualify for a tournament yet,” Kamara, who came home early from this month's international duty because of a nagging groin strain, told reporters after Sporting's training session. “We don't have any friendlies, and when we do get there we don't have the right preparation for us to get ready for the games on the weekends.”
Kamara, who is the Leone Stars' vice captain, scored their first goal in a 2-2 draw with Tunisia on June 8 but was not in the squad for their 1-0 loss to Cape Verde on Sunday. The results ended Sierra Leone's hopes of qualifying for Brazil 2014.
“It's disappointing, for working so hard throughout the tournament, trying to qualify, and then we have those results that we didn't,” he said. “It's tough, but at the same time, it's part of the game.”
Compounding the team's preparation problems, Kamara said, is the suspension of Sierra Leone's national league by Minister of Sports Paul Kamara (no relation). Consequently, all of the Leone Stars' squad is based abroad and must often travel long distances for international duty.
“Not to have a league to play in, it's really difficult,” Kei Kamara said. “He suspended the league because of a lot of politics that have been going on. But politics should stay out of sports, out of soccer, for the country's benefit, because they breathe soccer over there.”
Kamara said he has been dealing with the muscle strain since last November, even before his loan to the Premier League's Norwich City FC, but expects to be available when Sporting return to league play on Saturday at FC Dallas.
“After the game against Tunisia, my groin wasn't feeling so well,” he said. “I just decided to rest it, take a couple of days off and spend some time with my family. I feel a lot better. It's only my first day back at training, but I feel refreshed.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.