South Africa Ends Liberia's Hope for 3rd AFCON Finals with a Brutal Defeat

Captain William Jebor consoles defender Prince Balde after Lone Star’s 2-1 defeat to South Africa  


— A win would have taken Liberia to her third AfCON tournament, scheduled to take place in neighboring Ivory Coast in November.

South Africa on  March 28 defeated Liberia to qualify for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Côte d’Ivoire.

This comes after Liberians were incredibly excited to watch their Lone Star play on home soil for the first time in more than three years — an excitement that was further compounded by the crucial nature of the fixture.

A win would have taken Liberia to her third AfCON tournament scheduled to take place in neighboring Ivory Coast in November.

But this hope was short-lived as Liberia lost to South Africa on home soil a few days after comeback from two goals down to settle for a draw in the first leg, which took place in South Africa. 

Liberians then celebrated the draw away from home as though it was a win — believing that on home soil — they were going to win. 

Yesterday's game was the country's best chance to finally qualify for the AFCON after 21 years of waiting  but sadly, things did not go their way.

Goals from Zakhele Lepasa and Mihlali Mayambela helped the South Africans to return to the Nations Cup after missing the last edition in 2022.

Bafana secured the four points needed to qualify alongside group leaders Morocco, who have six points, from Group K for the tournament.

The South Africans took the lead in the 19th minute when Lepasa perfectly converted a one-on-one chance to beat goalkeeper Tommy Songo’s.

Liberia, who had made the most of their attacks, leveled the game in the 35th minute with William Jebor scoring his 13th national team goal through a low long-range shot that goalkeeper Ronwen Williams got his hands on, but could not prevent it from entering the back of the net.

Coach Ansu Keita, who made just a single change in his starting lineup by replacing Jamal Arago with Allen Njie, made a double substitution, introducing Mohammed Sangare and Tonia Tisdell, who both scored in the first leg, but the South Africans stood firm and found the back of the neat after Percy Tau drove down the left flank and sent a low ball toward the near post, but goalkeeper Songo’s fumbled, allowing Mayambele to send in the rebound to seal their qualification in the 53rd minute.

It's been 21 years since Liberia last played in the competition and have come closer to securing a slot in the finals of the competition, but missed out.

The next edition of the biannual tournament will be held in January 2024 in Côte d'Ivoire.