They came from all over the country in their numbers. And by the time Tunisian referee Youssef Essuayri got the game going at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS), it was evident that the national soccer team, the Lone Star, was set to make history.
Liberians had anticipated victory for the Lone Star, but they were aware that Liberia’s soccer history with Ivory Coast (La Cote d’Ivoire) heavily favored the Ivoirians.
In their previous 11 encounters, the Ivoirians won eight, and drew the remaining three. Therefore, last Friday’s World Cup Russia first leg psychologically favored the Ivoirians, making Liberia the underdogs.
However, the performance and the result of the game indicated that Liberia had come of age.
“In the past, the Ivoirians could have scored three to four goals against Liberia,” said a long time follower of games between the two countries. “And so for Liberia to stand up against the highly touted Ivoirian Elephants, and forcing them to resort to delay tactics, especially goalkeeper G. Gbohoro, which earned him a yellow card, meant that the Ivoirians met a strong challenge this time.”
“It was on that strength that Liberians cheered for Lone Star players after the match. We were impressed with the level of commitment demonstrated by the players, and we are convinced that Tuesday’s game in Ivory Coast could make a big difference.”
But can the strong challenge be replicated for the second leg tomorrow (Nov. 17) in Bouake, central Ivory Coast? Will the Guinea Bissau ‘executioner,’ William Jebor, receive enough support to let him repeat the miracle in Bouake?
With a narrow 1-0 win, the Ivoirians, playing in their backyard, might resort to what they did in the first leg—distributing the ball. But can Lone Star begin tomorrow’s game with the manner in which they played the second half of the first leg? Working on the principle that: “He who is down fears no fall,” should encourage the national team to take Bouake by storm tomorrow.
It is without argument that striker Anthony Laffor would be policed in tomorrow’s match, since he was the Ivoirians’ tormentor-in-chief on Friday’s game.
Another fan said, “We hope Laffor could get assistance in the second leg tomorrow so that his efforts will not be in vain like the first leg when his crosses could not be utilized for the desired results.”
Laffor, who was adjudged by sports journalists as the “Man of the Match,” played a leading role, but his crosses could not connect to William Jebor, who was impatiently ready for an opportunity to strike.
The overall performance of the national team was nothing but impressive, and it was no accident that the majority of the 15,000 fans had nothing but good wishes for the national team in tomorrow’s encounter to determine their chances for the 2018 World Cup Russia.
The following are other results around Africa:
Mozambique 1-0 Gabon; Sudan 0-1 Zambia; Burundi 2-3 DR Congo; Namibia 0-1 Guinea; Benin 2-1 Burkina Faso; Togo 0-1 Uganda; Morocco 2-0 Equatorial Guinea; Madagascar 2-2 Senegal; Comoros 0-0 Ghana; Kenya 1-0 Cape Verde; Libya 1-0 Rwanda; Angola 1-3 South Africa; Niger 0-3 Cameroon; Mauritania 1-2 Tunisia; Swaziland 0-0 Nigeria; Ethiopia 3-4 Congo; Tanzania 2-2 Algeria; Chad 1-0 Egypt; Botswana 2-1 Mali.
Second Leg result:
Gabon 1-0 Mozambique (Gabon advance 1-1 on aggregate, 4-3 on penalties after extra time)
Lone Star line-up for the second leg:
Tommy Songo; Solomon Grimes; Adolphus Marshall; Teah Dennis; Dirkir Glay; Patrick Gerhardt/Tonia Disdell; Sam Johnson; Patrick Wleh/Alseny Keita; William Jebor; Zah Krangar, and; Anthony Laffor.