The Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) is investigating the outcome of two matches that produced an unbelievable total of 187 goals.
The two second-tier games saw Kenema-based Kahunla Rangers and Gulf FC of Kono heavily defeat their city rivals in Premier League qualifiers on Sunday.
Kahunla walloped Lumbebu United 95-0, and Gulf FC thrashed Koquima Lebanon 91-1, providing the two biggest victories recorded in the history of Sierra Leonean football.
However, the half-time scores were just 2-0 and 7-1 respectively, and both results have been annulled because of suspicion of match manipulation.
“We can’t stand by and see an embarrassing situation like this go unpunished,” SLFA president Thomas Daddy Brima told BBC Sport Africa.
“We’re going to launch an immediate investigation and bring to book all those responsible for this mediocrity.
“All those found guilty will be dealt with in accordance with the SLFA laws, and will also be handed over to the country’s anti-corruption commission.”
The chief executive of Kahunla Rangers “strongly condemned unsportsmanlike behaviour” and Lumbebu’s general manager said he was “not aware of any match manipulation”.
Meanwhile, the chairman of Koquima Lebanon claimed the match involving his side was actually a friendly and officials from Gulf FC declined to comment.
The SLFA said it would investigate players and officials from all four clubs involved, designated match officials and the Eastern Region Football Association.
The organisation added it “maintains zero tolerance” against match manipulation in the West African country, in compliance with the rules of world governing body Fifa and the Confederation of African Football (Caf).
- Goals flow after half-time
Both Kahunla and Gulf FC had the same number of points going to their final round of matches and were fighting for Eastern Region’s remaining place in the national Super 10 League, which serves as the final qualifying phase for the Premier League.
The two games took place simultaneously and the referee of Gulf’s match refused to officiate the second half, and was subsequently replaced.
Things took a dramatic turn over the course of the second halves when it became clear that the team with the better goal difference would go through – with Kahunla netting 93 goals and Gulf scoring 84 times.
The chief executive officer of Kahunla, Eric Kaitell, condemned his team and other three sides involved on social media.
“I want to start by apologising to the football fans in the country and the world at large for the odd match result of my club Kahunla Rangers,” Kaitell said.
“I want to state firmly that I strongly condemn such unsportsmanlike behaviour displayed by my team, and the other teams involved.
“I’m setting up a committee to investigate the whole team including the technical staff and the executive members, and whoever is found wanting will be dealt with accordingly.”
- ‘I’ll never be part of match fixing’
The general manager of Lumbebu, Mohamed Jan Saeid Jalloh, stood in as coach for his team for the match in the absence of their substantive coach.
His side also had three men sent off in their 95-0 defeat, and he protested his innocence.
“I’m not aware of any match manipulation but can’t vouch for others,” Jalloh told BBC Sport Africa.
“We conceded lots of goals in the second half. I was frustrated and at some point even left the touchline in anger. I wasn’t concentrating afterwards, so I can’t even tell how many goals we conceded in all.
“I’ll never be part of match fixing.
“I’m calling on the football authorities to investigate both matches and bring to book anyone found wanting. And if nobody is found guilty of any crime then so be it.”
The chairman of Koquima Lebanon claimed the result against Gulf FC was from a friendly game, and he also disputed the 91-1 scoreline.
Mohamed Lanfia Tunkara said he had been told by his players and club officials that the league match between the two clubs did not actually take place.
Instead, it was an encounter between “players in the community, including some Koquima players” which was held to “entertain fans who had bought tickets to witness their match with Gulf FC”.