— Chief Sponsor, Nathaniel Williams, calls for unity among young people; pledges to support grassroots football
Football is a game full of surprises and the nature of the sport means that nothing is certain until the final whistle is blown at the end of the match. Teams have raced into a several goal advantage opportunities, only to see the opposition fight back and even go on to win the match.
This was exactly the case on Liberia’s 173rd Independence Day when two teams of young Liberian football talents, organized according to their respective counties, Maryland and Sinoe, locked-horns at the Thomas Fallah mini soccer pitch located in Neezoe Community along the Somalia Drive in Paynesville.
The two teams on Sunday, July 26, met in the grand finale of a community-County Meet Tournament organized by the leadership of the young people of the community and sponsored by a prominent resident of 72nd Community in Paynesville, Nathaniel Williams.
The impressive climax of the tournament, which was an all-Southeastern affair at the end, brought to an end weeks of spectacular soccer matches that kept residents of Neezoe Community intrigued and mesmerized with the natural talents. Maryland emerged winners after ensuring a hard fought comeback that ended the game 2-2, with both teams having to settle the score through penalty shootouts.
The penalties ended Maryland 5-4 Sinoe as the goalie of the Harper City Boys parried one of his opponents’ shots away. Sinoe defeated Nimba, while Maryland overwhelmed Gbarpolu to reach the finals.
Sinoe County dominated proceedings of the encounter most of the first half, exerting pressure on their opponent. The Greenville Boys got rewarded for their efforts in the 24th and 31st minutes through a brace from top striker, Emmanuel Momo, popularly known as Mohamed Salah. Salah tormented the opponent’s defense incessantly but also squandered numerous opportunities that would have put the encounter to bed with an increased score-line.
With his agility, vision and incredible control techniques, the Sinoe striker kept over three members of the 7-per-side pitch grounded in their defense—a strategy meant to neutralize his threats. This also meant that Maryland, the choice of majority of the spectators, posed neither little nor no threats to its opponent throughout the first 45 minutes.
Salah’s lightning pace and awesome skills constantly exposed or laid bare a vulnerable and disorganized Maryland team, who had to keep it late in response, in a fashionable and amazing manner though.
Players of the Maryland soccer team are residents of the vicinity where the tournament was held and its immediate surroundings and their poor showing in the first half was too frustrating for many of the match spectators.
With much to play for, especially their prestige, pride and to save face among their majority supporters, the Marylanders, deep into the second half regrouped with a unified ambition of bringing themselves back into the game. This mission received some green light when George Kollie, alias Neymar, scored a consolation goal in the 68th minute.
A moment of brilliance that got the entire pitch frozen came fifteen minutes later, when star player, Neymar, brought an excellent diagonal cross down his chest before shooting a thunderbolt in the left side of the goal. The late equalizer provoked a scene of intense jubilation by the fans who practically invaded the playing pitch.
The match eventually ended all square as all would rely on the magic of the men with the gloves to take the day.
The tournament, which some described as weeks of total football, brought life and some level of fanfare to residents of the area leading up to the Independence Day celebration.
Sinoe was 2-0 up with less than a half-hour to go, with Salah standing as the superhero but fate was fending around as no one actually thought that there would have been a miraculous turnaround—and truly, that’s the magic of the game of soccer. No one knows from whence the next moment of magic would come.
First Tournament to End in Neezoe Community in Many Years
Another intriguing part to the tournament is that it was the first to have been concluded in Neezoe Community and the organizers and residents attributed its success to the level of security that was provided by men brought in by the chief sponsor, Mr. Williams.
“We are grateful that this soccer tournament ended successful,” a community resident, said, adding, “People… have had series of tournaments here. But those hardly end because of fights that usually break out during games. We are really happy that this was not the case this time around. The tournament was properly conducted and supervised.”
In a brief remark before he presented the trophy, Chief Sponsor Nathaniel Williams lauded the players for the good manner in which they conducted themselves.
“I’m really proud of you guys. You did not make us shame because we were told that soccer tournaments do not end well here in Neezoe; but we have proven so many people wrong. I’m really happy about the way the tournament ended and we all are happy,” Mr. Williams said.
He promised the players and the community that such soccer league will frequently be held in the community to bring the young people to together as a way of ensuring peace and harmony among residents.
“Soccer is a promoter of peace and so we want to say that we will frequently have more of this so that our young people can be messengers of peace. This will also help to build their soccer talents.
And after passionate moments of celebration by the players and their massive community fans base, came the moment to award outstanding performers who help spiced up the tournament.
And as expected, players of champions Maryland bagged most of the awards, followed by the defeated Sinoe. The Champions were presented the trophy and a cash prize while the runners-up were given a cash prize.