The qualifying rounds of the next Africa Cup of Nations or AFCON began last weekend across the continent with the participation of national teams from fifty-two countries.
While some recorded victories, others failed to meet up with the expectations of fans and supporters despite the huge financial and moral support back home from their respective governments. For a few others, only draws could settle the ‘hostilities’ on the field of play.
However, in Group A of the qualifying rounds, Liberia’s pride – the Lone Star, gracefully went down 1-2 goals to its Togolese counterparts- the Hawks, in Lome’ on Sunday, June 14, 2015. Liberia had earlier taken the lead towards the end of the first half of the match before an equalizer by Sadat Ouro-Akoriko shortly after the hour and an Emmanuel Adebayor finisher three minutes to the end of time.
For some of us who may have watched or followed the Liberia-Togo match on Sunday, the ‘boys’ may have defeated our low expectation by exhibiting a dominant role and keeping the Togolese at bay, especially during the entire first half of the game, which resulted to the first goal scored by team Captain William Jebor.
What may have actually intimidated and subdued our National Team players that resulted to the defensive play and two goals conceded was the very poor refereeing by the match officials from neighboring La Cote d’Ivoire, especially during the entire second half as Liberian fans and supporters frustratingly followed.
The fact that the Confederation of African Football or CAF chose Ivorian match officials to ref a game between another French-speaking country (Togo) just in the same region instead of east, south or north Africa, it was sufficient to understand why our nation’s pride- the Lone Star, was subjected to such defeat- an unfortunate situation Liberian football authorities must study and act upon devoid of sentiments and selfishness.
Despite the humiliation suffered by the team in Lome’, Togo on Sunday, we still hail Head Coach James ‘Salinsa’ Debbah and the playing body for such performance, especially for a team being reorganized.
As we commend Coach Debbah and his ‘boys’, we urge us all to refrain from the un-necessary condemnation, castigation and destructive criticisms which preceded the Lone Star’s game in Togo and exercise the patience required until a full team is built.
Let us not expect much too soon from Coach Debbah because he’s just beginning from scratch, and that it would take some time to have a full senior National Soccer Team of Liberia- probably towards the end of the qualifying rounds of the Africa Cup of Nations.
And from all indications, especially judging from Sunday’s match, there are prospects for a formidable Lone Star under the watchful eyes of Debbah and others. Therefore, our condemnations, castigations and destructive criticisms must be transformed into massive moral and financial support as the head coach and other members of his staff gradually rebuild the team. And as we go through this transformation, the issue of ‘interest’ and politicizing the team at all levels must be placed far beneath of dream of a formidable senior National Team of Liberia if the technical staff must make the impact required of them.
Again, we hail our pride- the Lone Star for performing and conducting themselves well in Togo despite the intimidation, partiality and poor refereeing which characterized our 1-2 goals defeat to Togo- it’s only a lesson for the Ministry of Youth and Sports and Liberia Football Association to learn better.