…to determine who tops Group G
Liberia stands at the position of qualifying with another country in Group G for the 2019 African Cup of Nations with seven points behind Zimbabwe with eight points. Liberia’s next target will be DR Congo and, while that away match could be tricky, proper preparation as a result of last Sunday’s victory could spur the players on to change history in Kinshasa.
Admittedly, Lone Star’s players are aware of where they are — second to Zimbabwe — and their victory in their next counter against DR Congo could place Liberia for the first time in our soccer history to be on top of their group.
Of course, Zimbabwe have one more game and assuming that they win that match they would get 11 points and if they fail to win, they would remain at the 8 points and if Liberia win in DR Congo, they would get 10 points.
Liberia and Zimbabwe stand a historical chance to win to participate in African Cup of Nation in Cameroon. Lone Star last Sunday improved the chance to compete in the prestigious African Cup of Nations thanks to good substitution by Coach Thomas Kojo. Lone Star were the underdogs in last Sunday’s duel since, in their first encounter, Zimbabwe’s Warriors had won 3-0. Therefore teeming soccer fans initially were unsure if the red, white and blue boys could recover from that nightmare and turn the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex into a soccer graveyard for the Zimbabweans.
It became apparent even to soccer fans that Lone Star had turned the Complex a ground of terror for any country, starting with Congo Brazzaville who fell at the mercy of the angry Lone Star players. And so when Zimbabwe came, riding on the momentum of their 3-0 first leg win, they did not realize that Lone Star had turned into a dangerous team and were not prepared to allow any team to come and dance in their backyard.
So, when the game got a difficult point and Lone Star’s players were not finding their footing, Coach Thomas Kojo consulted with his colleagues decided to bring in Sylvanus Nimely to replace perhaps tired Kpah Sherman, a natural workhorse to provide the connections that speed star William Jebor, Tony Snoti Lanfor, and others were waiting for to teach Zimbabwe a lesson. Though until then, Lone Star had shown little of their intent and when Nimely came in the 70th minute and his initial runs forced their opponents to reorganize their defenses, it was clear to any good football disciple that danger was coming for the visitors.
With Nimely persistently harassing the Zimbabweans, Tonia Tisdell breathed a sigh of relief and their combination, along with Snorti Laffor, was more than legendary. All along teeming soccer fans waited for a miracle. In fact, several of them began to recite Psalm 23 (The Lord is My Shepherd) as their contribution for the victory that seemed to elude the Lone Star.
A goal in the 72nd minute changed everything. This is how a young Liberian lady described the moment: “Nimely tactically broke the Zimbabwean defense with a clinical pass for Tisdell and the Turkish-based attacker superbly rolled the ball through and Jebor was on time to put it at the back of the net.” Is that not how legends score their goal?
And that was enough to set the thousands of fans at the Samuel Kanyon Doe stadium on fire. As the women danced, the young men jumped for joy to celebrate and welcome the goal. With Liberia up 1-0, the Zimbabweans did not allow the goal to affect their play. Howeer, it was clear that what they had lost, they could not recover, for the Liberians were playing as if they were fighting for their lives.
And for the next 15 minutes, Zimbabwe fought as if they were possessed. Zimbabwean strikers Tino Kadewere and Khama Billiat made some attempts but as the time ticked to a close, they would have known that their efforts could not change the trend of the game.
Across to the VIP Lounge, President George Manneh Weah waited impatiently for victory and when it came, he could have remembered his playing days for the Lone Star. Particularly, one match that he opened the scoring and James Salinsa Debbah closed it, beating the Black Stars of Ghana 2-0, in a memorable match that Liberian soccer fans danced till the wee-wee hours of the morning.
Lone Star’s next match against Congo Brazzaville could be a mere formality since a draw could be enough to place Liberia at the second place or a win that could put Liberia on the top of Group G.