Pompey star poised to fulfil international dream

Mustapha Dumbuya. Picture: Allan Hutchings (122768-125)
Mustapha Dumbuya. Picture: Allan Hutchings (122768-125)
Pompey's Gareth Evans. Picture: Joe Pepler

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It represents the possible fulfilment of a dream for a player who as a five-year old fled civil war-torn Sierra Leone for a new life in England.

Yet for Pompey, Mustapha Dumbuya’s international call-up is another setback to Michael Appleton’s plans.

The 25-year-old has been named in Sierra Leone’s squad for their Africa Cup of Nations clash with Tunisia on Saturday, September 8.

With Pompey travelling to Crawley 24 hours later, it robs Appleton of the services of one of his more impressive early-season performers.

Having been an unused substitute during his previous international call-up back in June, the fixture represents the opportunity of a first cap for Dumbuya.

The former Doncaster man suffered the misfortune of missing a call-up against Sao Tome & Principe in February after his invite was sent to the wrong club.

Now the prospect of a bow against Tunisia is in the pipeline.

And Dumbuya is relishing the chance to at last represent the country he left with his mother and brother back in 1992.

He said: ‘I was born in Sierra Leone and came here when I was five. With the civil war happening all around us, my mum got me out.

‘I went to London to live with my mum and brother. Obviously everything has settled down now over there and it’s a beautiful country.

‘My dad is still over there, though. He works for the army.

‘We came to England and had to build a new life – it has been tough – but now I have the opportunity to play for my country.

‘My first match was in June when we played Sao Tome & Principe and beat them 4-2. I was on the bench, though, and didn’t come on.

‘It was an amazing experience, breathtaking, and hopefully there are more games to come and I will be involved.

‘I think I made a good impression over there, the coach really likes me and the manager really likes me.

‘Sierra Leone have scouts in England, so they have been watching me for a while. The progression is happening over there, now they are taking it very serious because we have got a really good side.

‘There are players in Europe, in countries such as Serbia, Belgium, and at clubs like Celtic. I’m the only one in England, though.

‘Now we have a good opportunity to go to the Africa Cup of Nations and the World Cup. In fact, I think if we win our next two games we go to the Africa Nations.’

Dumbuya is one of five uncapped players in the 19-man squad for the Tunisia clash in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Interestingly, he is also one of only two players based in British football, along with Mohamed Bangura of Celtic.

The ex-Grays Athletic defender won his initial call-up for his country in February – only for bad luck over a club mix-up to rob him of that opportunity.

Now he’s hoping for better fortune.

He added: ‘Earlier this year I spent a month on loan at Crystal Palace. The Sierra Leone authorities decided to send my invite there but by that stage I had returned to Doncaster, so I didn’t receive it!

‘Eventually I got the invitation the day before I was meant to fly out, so it was a bit too late and had to wait.

‘I’m back in the squad, though, and hopefully can make my debut against Tunisia.’