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Liberians are converging in their thousands today at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium or ATS in Monrovia in a show of support as the nation’s only pride, the Lone Star hosts the Elephants of Ivory Coast, Africa’s defending champions in the first leg of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, scheduled in Russia.

Today’s match has been described by soccer crazy Liberians as “a do or die battle” as the red, white and blue boys intensify their winning spree after two victories against Tunisia and Guinea Bissau. The return leg of today’s game is next Tuesday, November 17, in Abidjan, the Ivoirian capital.

Draw for the FIFA World Cup Preliminary Competition in the African Zone was held on 25 July this year in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Liberia is yet to defeat the Elephants at senior level in all competitions. Both sides have met 14 times with 11 wins for the Elephants, and three matches ending in goalless draws.

The Elephants arrived here Wednesday with a 15-man delegation onboard a chartered flight from Abidjan via the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County. Senior national team coach, James Debbah, is leaving no screw unturned in making sure the victory spree started is maintained.

Liberian international striker, William Jebo, who scored hat-trick against Guinea Bissua, the first ever in Liberian football, is set and ready for the Elephants. Meanwhile, Liberia’s FA president Musa Bility’s bid for the FIFA presidency has been dashed after he reportedly failed an integrity check.

Bility was one of seven candidates vying to replace Sepp Blatter, but FIFA revealed it had not admitted the candidature “in view of the content of the integrity check report relating to him. “The Ad-hoc Electoral Committee did not admit the candidature of Musa Hassan Bility, in view of the content of the integrity check report relating to him. For reasons of protection of personality rights, the Ad-hoc Electoral Committee — while it has explained its considerations in detail to Musa Hassan Bility — will not comment publicly on the specifics of its decision,” the committee said in an e-mailed statement.

At the same time the Liberal Football Association has announced the death of its Secretary-General Alphonso Armah. Mr. Armah reportedly passed away on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 after arrival here from India for medical treatment. The 37years old was laid to rest Thursday with hundreds of mourners paying respect. 

By Sally Gaye

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