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Lamin Bangura: Former Sierra Leone international dies aged 59 in bus crash

Former Sierra Leone international Lamin Bangura has died aged 59 after being involved in a road accident in the West African nation on Tuesday night.

The accident happened in the village of Konta Line as a bus carrying Ports Authority FC, the club Bangura coached, hit a stationary truck.

The team was travelling from the capital Freetown to Kenema for a Sierra Leone Premier League fixture.

Idrissa Tarawally, secretary general of Ports Authority, said Bangura was taken to a hospital in Freetown but died from his injuries in the early hours of Wednesday.

"It's a sad day for Sierra Leone football," Tarawally told BBC Sport Africa.

"This is shocking and I'm devastated. I'm speechless. A legend and good coach has gone so soon."

Six players were also injured in the crash in Tonkolili district, with some in a serious condition, and they are receiving treatment in Freetown.

Wednesday's Premier League game against Kahunla Rangers was postponed.

Bangura, a centre-back helped Sierra Leone to qualify for the 1994 and 1996 Africa Cup of Nations finals and featured in both tournaments.

He was also a member of the Leone Stars technical staff at the 2021 Nations Cup in Cameroon.

Sierra Leone coach Amidu Karim, who played alongside Bangura for the national side in the 1990s, said he had lost "a friend, brother and mentor".

"He was my senior in the national team and he motivated us, the younger ones, at the time to do well," added Karim.

"A true legend is no more. I'm very sad."

Thomas Daddy Brima, president of the Sierra Leone FA, was among others who paid tribute to Bangura.

"He was a legend who gave his all for Sierra Leone both as a player and coach," he said. "We'll miss him."

Brima also added he would ask the body running the Sierra Leone Premier League to put the league on hold until a serious discussion on road safety is held.

"We've now had four accidents involving football teams in the country [with] most happening in the night," he added.

"This is a cause for concern. We should put the league on hold to have serious discussions around transportation and safety of the teams."

During his playing career Bangura featured for Sierra Leonean clubs Diamond Stars and Real Republicans before spells with Guinean sides AS Kaloum, Horoya and Santoba, Ivorian outfit ASEC Mimosas and clubs in Morocco and Tunisia.

As a coach, he led AS Kaloum to the league title in Guinea and won back-to-back Sierra Leone Premier League trophies with Diamond Stars in 2012 and 2013.

He also took charge of Central Parade (now Wilberforce Strikers) and Santoba before being appointed as Ports Authority boss in August 2021.

He took the Freetown club to the semi-finals of the Sierra Leone FA Cup semi-finals this season.

Bangura, who also had stints as head coach of Sierra Leone's Under-17, U20 and U23 teams, will be buried on Friday.