John Keister has been hired as the newest head coach of the Sierra Leone national football team. The 46-year-old played for Sierra Leone when he was younger, and is the first local man to coach the country’s international squad in six years. The announcement was made in the country’s capital of Freetown on Thursday. Keister is expected to get Sierra Leone past qualifiers for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. “My appointment is a dream come true. We have a massive task to qualify for the Afcon finals,” Keister said at the unveiling ceremony.
Keister was a midfielder during his football playing career, beginning locally with the Tigres club in 1992. In 1993, he began his seven-year tenure with Walsall in England, making 106 appearances with the club, although only scoring two goals in his time there. He then bounced around Chester City, Shrewsbury Town and Stevenage Borough before settling down with Margate, where he spent five years between 2001 and 2006. In his 186 appearances with the team during that span, he scored 22 goals. During that time, he also made 16 appearances for the Sierra Leone national team, scoring zero goals in that brief period of playing. He then moved on to Dover Athletic and a second stint with Margate before retiring from his playing career in 2011.
After that, he began pursuing a coaching career, serving as an assistant coach for previous managers of the national team, including Ghanaian Sellas Tetteh, Swede Lars Olof Matsson and Northern Irishman Johnny McKinstry. He then went on to coach the national under-17 and under-23 teams before moving on to coach the Sierra Leone Premier League club FC Johansen. However, since the club’s owner, Isha Johansen, is also the president of the Sierra Leone Football Association, the two were able to come to an agreement in which he will coach both his local club and the national team at the same time.