National U-23 head coach Thomas Kojo is an optimist in the face of what others would describe as a burden, and I admire him for that.
Losing 2-0 to Ghana’s Black Meteors last Sunday at the Tamale Sports Stadium in the first leg of the Rio 2016 Olympic qualifiers, Kojo told journalists in Ghana that he is hopeful of qualification.
Kojo will be inspiring his boys for the return leg at the same venue on Saturday, May 2.
Kojo said his team’s overall output in the first encounter was good except few mistakes. “We have a good side. All our plans went well except…few mistakes that led to the two goals.
“Technically, we got what we wanted. Our approach, not hundred per cent though, overall we are impressed.” I am not sure Kojo is arguing that losing 2-0 was the objective of the match but it made sense to speculate that he had had the premonition of losing more than two goals.
News reports indicated that Kojo adopted the 4-5-1 system. “The 4-5-1 system is both defensive and offensive,” Kojo admitted. It means that in the first leg, he had four players at the defense, five in the midfield and one on the top.
Clearly, concentrating on defense with a player on the top would not threaten their opponents and it was the reason that Black Meteors had a field day, with their domination.
But Liberia’s best period game in what a reporter described as, “during the dying embers of the game.” That was after Jr. Lone Star broke away from the 4-5-1 system and began to attack.
Though the system may have prevented more goals against Jr. Lone Star, it did not help to threaten the Ghanaians. And though striker Sporo Somah, Prince Saydee, Herron Berrian and goalkeeper Allengton Sembeh proved outstanding, playing the 4-5-1 will hurt Jr. Lone Star on Saturday.
Fact is that now the team must score 3-0 to qualify, and with the Ghanaians enjoying a comfortable 2-0 lead, Kojo’s hope to qualify sounds anything but a big HOPE.
Another difficulty Kojo encountered was blending the foreign based players with the locals. His reason? “I never had the time to see them play together,” Kojo said of Sporo, Herron and Cooper.
Then of course during the game when Jr. Lone Star could not make use of the few chances they created.
“We created some good chances but we were robbed by poor finishing; we will indeed work on our scoring techniques,” was Kojo’s promise, all within a week?
Kojo’s positive outlook on the two-tie game in Ghana should give his boys the fighting spirit beyond Saturday’s game.