Jr. Lone Star or Satellites surprisingly pulled her first win in decades, which many football pundits have described as a “deserved win.”
Four years ago under Coach Hazel Gray, the Satellites drably bowed 5-0 on goals aggregate to Niger, losing 3-0 at home and 2-0 in Niamey, Niger.
But last Sunday, in front of a crowded Antoinette Tubman Stadium current Coach Robert Lartey’s boys played below par as a team, despite winning narrowly against their Ivorian opponents.
The Ivorians played a more careful game, with incisive long and short passes with some aggressive attacks which did not help them.
Statistically, the orange boys wasted 11 corner-kicks against one by Junior Lone Star. The Ivorians took several pointless shots at goal, while Satellites’ two shots at goal in the second half were through direct kicks.
The memorable moments for Junior Lone Star came when the technical staff, including Robert Lartey, Sam Chebli and Janjay Jacobs overhauled the team to include penetrative and strong attackers and physically-fit midfielders.
During recess, football veteran Coach Josiah N. Johnson revealed that the team’s technical flaws, which included lack of penetration, and the failure to make use of the flanks.
After the game, Coach Johnson said: “There was no one to take the ball into the Ivorian zone and during pep-talks at the recess I told them there is time to make solo move which is done to exploit the weaknesses of the opponents to advantage.
“I urged them to get into the zone and as Armah Baxter would tell you, all ‘goal be goal.’”
Jr. Lone Star’s ‘men of the match,’ last Sunday was shot-stopper Abdullai Koulubaly and gawky forwarder, Sunnyboy Dolo.
Goalie Koulubaly didn’t have a quiet time because of the shots and corner-kicks but certainly proved to be outstanding. He might be the reason the Young Elephants never had the opportunity to disturb the Liberian net.
Striker Dolo became the biggest attacking threat as he continually made bursting runs down the left-hand side to send some crosses into the box, and his one-time dribbling session into the box resulted to the penalty.
Dolo’s drive led to the lone goal in the 85th minute by unworkable striker, Blamo Nimely.
Right winger Prince Nani Saydee was much more nervous on the ball than usual and made some lackadaisical passes.
Sporo Somah, as a midfielder, didn’t hold the ball particularly well and often held on to the ball too much and was easily dispossessed off the ball.
Attacker Vandave Harmon should have been an aggressor but was too wasteful. He misjudged his balls horribly.
Though it’s commendable for Coach Pella’s debut international win with Jr. Lone Star, the technical team must reconsider to overhaul the team with more adventurous players for the return-leg in Abidjan in two weeks.