The West Africa Union U-20 tournament has produced the last four teams that are competing in the semi-finals today. The four are host Liberia, La Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, and Mali. Liberia and La Cote d’Ivoire came from Group A and The Gambia and Mali came from Group B.
So, the four of the two groups are deciding in the semi-finals today to determine the last two for the finals on Sunday.
While La Cote d’Ivoire gave indications from their first game against Liberia (3-0) that they came for the trophy, Liberia’s impressive comeback, defeating Guinea Bissau (2-1) and later whipping Sierra Leone (5-1) have shown their quick recovery to be serious for the trophy. In their last two matches, the Ivorians trounced Guinea Bissau 4-0 and Sierra Leone 4-1. The Ivorians scored 11 goals in three matches and conceded one goal.
Liberia, on the other hand, scored seven goals in two matches with four goals against them and one loss. These brief statistics give the Ivorian advantage in putting the ball behind the backs of their opponents. And this is where it worries local soccer fans, though Liberia rediscovered their scoring form after their loss to the Ivorians.
Can we say that the Liberian side can match player to player the caliber of players that are in the Ivorians’ outfit? Many soccer fans are entertaining the hope that since Junior Lone Star discovered their scoring boots after the Ivorian baptism, the players can engage any of their opponents squarely and come out the winner. Can they say that against the Ivorians, who scored three goals against zero in their first match? Of course, the teams are still bothered by their fate in the semi-finals but considering the records since the games began, La Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia have demonstrated that they are going to meet again.
Many soccer fans are not worried about today’s games where Liberia go against Mali and La Cote d’Ivoire face The Gambia in their semi-finals bids. Both Mali and The Gambia have proved their indomitable spirit and have succeeded to reach the semi-finals stage but going against two of the most goal- scoring opponents, it would take some miracles for them to hold their opponents in check. But the question that the average soccer fans is considering is: have the Liberians learned enough from their encounter against the Ivorians to change the result in their second coming, perhaps on Sunday?
It is no mistake that both teams would be worried about their chances, but since the eventual winners would have to engage each other to prove they are champions, soccer fans would simply hold their excitement until the two games are finished today.
Because they know that the grand and classic finals would simply be between Junior Lone Star and their nemesis. Of course, I will be there to see how any of the two would be crowned champions on Sunday at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex.