Dr. Amos C. Sawyer, Chairman of the Governance Commission (GC), yesterday paid a surprise visit to the headquarters of the Liberia Football Association on Benson Street in Monrovia to plead for calm in the wake of the shocking disappointment in the match against Togo last Sunday.
“These things happen,” Dr. Sawyer, the former interim president, told Mr. Henry Browne and Coach Kaetu Smith. “Pass my message on to James Debbah and we must look forward and not let the disappointment defeat us.”
Dr. Sawyer also appealed to Liberians not to let the disappointment sap their determination to support Lone Star’s technical team, led by James Salinsa Debbah.
Responding, LFA technical director Browne assured Dr. Sawyer that he would convey his sentiments of solidarity to Coach Debbah and to his technical team on his recommendation.
Meanwhile, Coach Debbah, on an LBS radio program yesterday expressed disappointment with Liberians who say that he has done nothing to develop the national team.
“I am ok when I am criticized constructively,” said a disappointed Debbah, “but I am not happy when people state that I have done nothing for the team, because of the team’s failure to have maintained its lead to win the match against Togo.”
He admitted that Togo is an experienced soccer nation with players who are more experienced than their Liberian counterparts.
Coach Debbah, who felt he was not being fairly criticized, further admitted that he was disappointed after the game and would be glad to resign for another coach to take his position.
He further admitted that the national team players are good at playing for 65 minutes and thereafter they suffer lack of stamina and pointed out that he signed his contract with the Liberia Football Association to build a team and not qualify the team for a continental contest like the African Cup of Nations.
Though many disagreed with him and insisted that he must express apology to the over 3.5 million Liberians who placed their trust in him as a coach to lead their national team against Togo that did not materialize as expected.
Later, Debbah said, “I apologize for the disappointment but Liberians must understand that that is soccer and these things happen sometimes.” He said the Togolese French coach Claude de Roy, coached him during his playing days with French club Paris St. Germain and admitted that the game was between a boss and a student.
Contributing, LFA President Musa Bility explained that all over the world coaches are blamed when teams lose matches and there is no other way to handle the disappointment on Sunday.
“In such a situation we all have to look at what went wrong and talk about it and fix what we can fix as a family,” Bility, who expressed confidence in Debbah’s ability to carry on the job, said.
Many others said Debbah must lead the campaign to pick up the pieces and forge ahead to face upcoming challenges, since Liberia will have to travel to Tunisia for the last decider.
Debbah meanwhile explained that he suffers from a back pain that made him unable to have stood up during the game to give instructions to his boys, for which many fans have criticized him.
“I took 6 injections before the match and I was still suffering the pain,” he said.