It could very well be called “the game of the decade,” when tomorrow, Liberia’s Lone Star meets the Elephants of La Cote d’Ivoire in a World Cup qualifier football match.
We choose to call it the game of the decade, because this is the 12th time in 50 years that the two teams are meeting.
In their 11 previous encounters, the Elephants defeated Liberia eight times, with three draws. This is the Lone Star’s fifth meeting at home in Monrovia with the Ivorian Elephants, who are Africa’s reigning champions.
These brief historical notes show that tomorrow’s game will be a very serious clash between the teams of two great West African sisterly neighbors. Their very close relations date back to the early 1960s, when President W.V.S. Tubman forged warm, friendly relations with Ivorian President Felix Houphouet-Boigny, even before La Cote d’Ivoire attained its independence from France on August 7, 1960. As is customary, the day of August 7 was celebrated in Liberia as a national holiday. During that Independence season—the 1960s—President Tubman made it a policy that each time an African nation got its independence, the day would be observed in Liberia as a national holiday. So La Cote d’Ivoire’s was no exception.
As Liberia meets the Goliath of African football, the Ivorian Elephants, the Lone Star must play with their hearts and muster all the determination, faith and stamina to play the match, and play like David to win.
The story of David and Goliath is all too familiar to us. For David, it was not the Philistine giant’s height, weight, strength or armor that mattered. None of these did. “You come with your strength and armor,” murmured David, “but I come in the name of the Lord, the God of Israel.”
Besides his faith and total reliance on the power of God, all else that David had was his sling and a rock. And when he had finished using them, the giant lay on the ground, dead!
We pray that Coach James Salinsa Debbah has done well his coaching work, and prepared his team for a victorious encounter with the Elephants. What they need now are: faith in God, belief in themselves and the determination to do one thing—win the match.
All Liberians should join our team in fervent prayer that Liberia will rise above the past defeats and draws and go on to be triumphant against the Elephants both here at home and subsequently in Abidjan.
Remember, nothing is impossible. Indeed with God ALL things are possible.
Remember, too, President Edwin Barclay’s enduring challenge to all Liberians of every age. In his immortal Anthem, “The Lone Star Forever,” Barclay wrote,
“Then forward, sons of Freedom, March!
Defend the sacred heritage!
The nation’s call from age to age
Where’er it sounds ‘neath Heaven’s arch.
Wherever foes assail.
Be ever ready to obey
‘Gainst treason and rebellion’s front,
‘Gainst foul aggression. In the brunt
Of battle lay the hero’s way!
All hail, Lone Star, all hail!”