With at least 35 days to the opener of the 2017 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) against Togo in Lome, Coach James Salinsa Debbah is still in the hunt for a cream of players to begin intensive training.
Since the start of the Coca-Cola Big 8 Tournament, the Lone Star manager has been seen on the Blue Field purposely to “pick and choose” super players in the absence of the domestic league, which has been deferred for the 3rd time on Monday, May 25.
On the tournament’s opener, Coach Debbah sat in the VIP stand during BYC and Nimba United derby but moved on the technical bench of Mighty Barrolle, his former club in which in played for five years, 1984-1989, and his presence might have motivated the Rollers to draw with LISCR FC, 2-2.
The 47-year-old watched the rest of the preliminary rounds which ended yesterday at the VIP.
Though Debbah is tightlipped on his selection many football connoisseurs believe that most of the players would come from BYC I, because the ‘Go Blue Boys’ are the only team that won all her games and didn’t concede a goal.
The Group A leader whipped Nimba United 1-0, as well as Barrolle and LISCR FC 2-0 and 1-0 respectively.
NPA Anchors, head of Group B emerged with seven points, having convincingly whipped FC Fassell and Aries 4-0 and 2-0 respectively and drawing with IE, 1-1.
The runners-up of Group A and B, Nimba United and IE are also in the fray for their players to be single out. Players from second runners-up LISCR FC and Mighty Barrolle are not an exception for the ‘go-after’.
Amidst the crucial call-up of players being hinged on the nine-day football league, some connoisseurs are admonishing the coach to begin intensive practice on Monday, May 11 to have adequate time to prepare for the showdown.
Meanwhile, besides the local players, Coach Debbah has announced the call-up of at least 40 overseas players for the 2017 African Cup of Nations (AFCON).
For the oversease players, Coach Debbah named Sam Johnson (in Sweden), William Jerboe (Portugal), Alex Nimely (England), and Baba Kar, a young Liberian who is playing in Italy, among others.
He dismissed reports that South Africa based Anthony Laffor remains captain of Lone Star. Reports have it that he has verbally resigned.
Coach Debbah argued that a new coach has the right to retain or appoint a new captain, though he has not officially unveiled whether the ex-skipper would be among his 40 foreign based players.
Lone Star, particularly, the local players would also participate in the 2016 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers, (the Orange African Nations Championship in Rwanda 2016.)
The CHAN competition is organized for players who feature in the local league, while the AFCON tournament is for both foreign based and local players.
Many football connoisseurs are doubtful that the employment of an inexperienced coach, the delay in the selection of players, lack of deputy coach and the unpleasant relationship with the LFA and the Liberian government coupled with the ‘No Money Syndrome” would lead Liberia to qualify since we last appeared in 1996 and 2001.