Liberia Bow Out of CHAN Qualifiers Despite Win in Senegal

“Even though we did not qualify, the win is important and we are grateful,” Coach Keita said in his post-match interview. (photo: T Kla Wesley)  

Liberia’s senior national team comprising local-based players bowed out of the 2022 CAF African Nations Championship (CHAN) on Saturday despite a 2-1 win against Senegal as the Lone Star lost 4-2 on aggregate.

Having lost to Senegal 3-0 in the first leg on July 24 at the SKD Sports Stadium in Paynesville, the Lone Star went away with an attacking mindset.

“We will attack, attack, and get the goals. Our focus is to qualify. I notice that they are physical and also play long balls. We have tactics to contain them. We lost at home, that is football; and it is also possible we can beat our opponents at their home and qualify,” stand-in Coach Ansumana Keita said in the pre-match press conference.

The overall goal, which was to overturn the first-leg result and qualify for the next round, was not achieved, however, what is being considered a “historical victory” was accomplished, as this was the Lone Star’s first away win against Senegal in 55 years.

The Senegalese broke the deadlock 35 minutes on the clock through Abdoulaye Wade, sending the first half to a close with the Senegalese in the lead.

Coach Keita made five substitutions in the second half, introducing Budu Sherman, Sidiki Kromah, Jegbay Konneh, Divine Teah, and Nicholas Andrews.

The substitutions yielded results after Sidiki Kromah leveled the scores in the 73rd when he headed in a cross from left-back Prince Nagbo into the back of the Senegalese net.

Later, in the 87th minute, Liberia got the opportunity to take the lead for the first time after forward Nicolas Andrews was fouled in the penalty area. The opportunity was properly utilized after Andrews perfectly converted the spot-kick to give Liberia the 2-1 victory.

“Even though we did not qualify, the win is important and we are grateful,” Coach Keita said in his post match interview.

Senegal will now face Guinea in the Second Round of the qualifiers later in August. The aggregate winners will qualify for the 2022 CHAN.

The 2022 CHAN, which will be the 7th edition of the biennial association football tournament organized by CAF, featuring national teams’ local-based players, will be held in Algeria between 8 and 31 January 2023.