The Junior national team of Liberia, with the best breed of U-20 players, went into the 2019 West Africa Football Union (WAFU U-20) Nations Cup hosted in Conakry, Guinea, with an expectation of performing better in the competition as compared to the previous league season.
Liberia finished as runners-up in the previous edition of the tournament which was held in Liberia, 2018. The Junior Lone Star lost 2-1 against The Gambia at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex.
In this year’s edition, the junior national team kickstarted the tournament in a group of three with a 1-0 defeat against The Gambia, a result that sealed Gambia’s slot in the semifinals of the after 1-1 draw against Mali in their first game.
Coach Robert Lartey and his boys were left with an uphill task in their final group match against Mali on Saturday, November 30. Liberia needed to collect all three points to book their ticket to the last four of the tournament, but Mali became a stumbling block.
With a tough task to get a win against Mali, Liberia were unable to get a goal in the first period and were only left with the last 45 minutes to decide their fate. Unfortunately, the Malians got the breakthrough midway through the second period, making things harder for Liberia.
LISCR FC striker Mark Karlay, who was also part of the team that finished as runners-up in the previous edition, leveled things up for Liberia in the 70th minute from Jeremy Saygbe’s assists, restoring their hope of qualifying with 20 minutes left to play.
Regrettably, the 1-1 result was not a favorable result for Liberia, as Mali joined Gambia to progress to the semifinals with two points from two games.