La Cote d’Ivoire meet Mali for 3rd Place
The on-going West Africa Football Union (WAFU) tournament in Monrovia has produced some unexpected results; the most notable one was The Gambia’s surprise victory over La Cote d’Ivoire, until then the tournament’s favorite.
The Ivorians were the most favorite to have won the tournament because of the last three impressive results of their matches.
Recall that before the Gambia eliminated them on penalties, the Ivorians had defeated Liberia 3-0; Guinea Bissau 4-1 and Sierra Leone 5-1.
On the other hand, The Gambians drew goalless with Guinea, drew 1-1 against Senegal, and lost 1-0 to Mali before pulling up a surprise with the penalty victory over La Cote d’Ivoire.
The above brief statistics showed how sports do not follow logic sometimes, and also re-emphasizes Coach Josiah Johnson’s position that ‘football is like the biscuit’ simply because results do not, on many occasions, happen as they are expected.
While that argument could hold a modicum of truth, in most cases the teams have to be properly trained and well-motivated and with clever and creative players who come on top of competitive tournaments. Take for the example the tactics that The Gambian side used in their last four games that ensured that they avoid heavy casualties: The Gambians are effective in manipulating their defensive techniques to advantage.
Besides the penalty kicks, they won 5-4 (1-1 regular time) against the Ivorians; they conceded two goals in their encounters against Senegal and La Cote d’Ivoire. It means that they are comfortable in their defense and also in their goalkeeper.
Now they will be going against Junior Lone Star that have become the current favorites, simply also because they started their campaign with a 3-0 loss to the Ivorians but recovered with a 2-1 over Guinea Bissau before whipping Sierra Leone 5-1 and then 1-0 over Mali.
While the Gambians may depend on their defensive tactics to frustrate their Liberian strikers, I am sure the Liberian technical team has followed The Gambia surprise with eagle eyes to be able to find an antidote just in case on Saturday, The Gambians decide to apply a system that has been effective for them.
Their game is set for 6 p.m. while the first game between La Cote d’Ivoire and Mali is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Saturday at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex. With their last three impressive showings, the Liberian youth may want to explore what has made them one of the remarkable teams in the tournament.
However, they would have to be careful since their opponents are composed of a bunch of players who are good at defense; that is, to deny the opponent a chance at penetration, before coming out to become adventurous.
And playing at home with expected teeming fans that may include Chief Patron George Weah, the Liberians could play one of their best games in the tournament that could help them to win and win in style.