“I’VE still got the aim to get back into international recognition.”

Abdulai Baggie’s desire to return to action for Sierra Leone, the country of his birth, is still burning brighter than ever.

Twelve appearances for the Leone Stars has not satisfied the former Tranmere winger’s appetite to perform on the biggest stage for his country.

Baggie has been a star player for Weymouth this season, catching the eye of many spectators with a series of impressive and important goals.

It remains to be seen whether Baggie’s tally of 12 goals and eight assists this season will tempt the Sierra Leone selectors into offering him a place in their next squad.

But the flying winger is ready to seize upon any chance given to him, such is the importance of playing for his home nation.

“It’s a huge honour,” he told Echosport. “Whatever country it is, a small or big country, it’s still a massive achievement for anyone.

“That’s always been my aim and I’m not going to stop there now. I’ve still got the aim to get back into international recognition.

“I’m always striving to do better every season and try and achieve more. I always have targets I want to reach every season.

“If I don’t hit them then I get quite disappointed in myself.”

Sierra Leone play in the capital, Freetown, at the 45,000-capacity Siaka Stevens Stadium – a far cry from the confines of the Bob Lucas Stadium, which can swell to a 6,600 attendance.

“The international scene is a different feeling,” Baggie said.

“You’re home, there’s a massive crowd and you’ve got the African Nations Cup qualifiers, or the World Cup qualifiers. It’s an amazing feeling.

“I was lucky enough for my family to be there for my first international. That’s something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.

“But I still want more memories, so fingers crossed that can continue.

“I’ve played 12 times, but I still want to play more – it’s still burning inside of me.

“I’ve got to take it one step at a time and as long as I do the business for Weymouth on a Saturday, hopefully that will pay off.”

Playing conditions, hot and humid, are also a world away from the temperate climate and plush, renowned turf at the Bob Lucas.

“It’s very hard and dry!” Baggie light-heartedly reveals. “They try and look after (the pitches) as best as they can.

“But out there it’s a different heat, every single day. The water they have over there they don’t have any drainage.

“Over here, they drain the pitches, look after the pitches well and have a full-time groundsman.

“Over there, you just get what you’re given. Whether it’s hard ground, soft ground or a muddy pitch, you’ve got to deal with the conditions.

“It still doesn’t stop us from playing football, regardless. Whether it’s on the park, a competitive match or an African Nations Cup qualifier, you still want to play and do the best you can.

“You’re playing for your country and it’s a massive achievement for anyone to do so.”

There it is, that pride and desire to play for your country.

It’s an ambition that continues to drive the 27-year-old and one which could steer Weymouth, and maybe Sierra Leone, to success in the future.

Dorset Echo

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