Sierra Leone's Sankoh feels 'safe in Turkey' amid political tension

Sierra Leone midfielder Alfred Sankoh
Sierra Leone midfielder Alfred Sankoh

Sierra Leone international Alfred Sankoh, who has signed for Turkish second tier league club Denizlispor, insists he feels safe in Turkey despite the current political tension in the country.

A three-month state of emergency is in place in Turkey as a result of a failed military coup attempt on 15 July, but Sankoh is not tempted to leave.

"I'm aware of the current political situation in Turkey but I feel safe playing there," the 27-year old Sankoh told BBC Sport.

Hundreds of people including civilians were killed and thousands injured during the coup attempt and more than 6,000 people have so far been arrested.

Sankoh admitted it was frightening when he became aware of what had happened.

"I was in Alanya on vacation when I heard about the coup attempt. It was tense when people went out to protest and I was afraid.

"But things became calm afterwards and I believe it's safe for me to remain in Turkey.

"I flew to Istanbul two days later. We are footballers, we don't get involved in politics and I don't think we'll be affected," Sankoh added.

Sankoh joined Denizlispor on a one year contract as a free agent on Friday after ending his stay with another Turkish second tier league club, Balikesispor, by mutual consent in May.

He says he made the right choice to join the Denizil based club who participated in the 2002/2003 Uefa cup, now the Europa league.

"I decided to join Denizlispor because I believe is the right choice for me as they met my wages demand and I'm happy about it.

"Another reason for joining the club is because they want to do well in the coming season as they have signed good foreign players from Brazil and The Netherlands.

"I'll give out my best and try as best as possible to help Denizlispor get promoted to the Turkish top tier league."

Denizlispor are the third Turkish club Sankoh has joined after Balikesispor and Sanliurfaspor where he had two spells.

He also played in Azerbaijan for Khazar Lankaran and in the Norwegian top flight league for Stromsgodset with whom he won the 2010 Norwegian football cup, the only silverware so far in his career.

Before moving to Europe Sankoh played for local Sierra Leone clubs Old Edwardians, Ports Authority FC and Kallon FC.

Sankoh is now a regular member of Sierra Leone's national squad and played against Sudan in Freetown last month in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers which they won 1-0.