National team Coach James Salinsa Debbah began tactical training yesterday at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium in Monrovia to prepare for Lone Star’s first encounter against Togo.
Prior to the kick-off of the first training, the 48-year-old Debbah promised a fresh start for the Lone Star and asked the players to play from their heart in order for Liberians to once again see "attractive and effective" football.
Debbah’s brief lecture was interpreted by some spectators that he might be a godsend for the local players, as it was announced that 25 out of the 40 called-up local players would make the team for the joint 2017 AFCON and 2016 CHAN qualifiers.
Though he didn’t call himself the ‘the special one’ upon kicking off his first training exercise as Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, spectators who have faith in him have already called him the ‘the special one.’
Monday’s training started with a prayer, while Coach Debbah gazed in the sky, with hands behind his back, which definitely indicates the start of his herculean task.
Amidst the illustration and supervision of the stretch-outs by Deputy Coach Kelvin Sebwe, Deputy Sports Minister Henry Yonton, Jr., joined other spectators to witness the first training session since the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in March 2014.
Though Minister Yonton remained tight-lip on his attendance but according to sources his presence is intended to demonstrate government’s interest in Lone Star’s campaign.
As Debbah begins his litmus test in the introduction of his ‘magical tactics and patterns’ for the two tournaments, many Liberians have described his journey as ‘very difficult’ with the debut match against Togo in Lome, Togo.
According to the 2017 AFCON Group A fixture, Liberia is expected to play six games, home and away, against group Togo, Tunisia and Djibouti.
Liberia has suffered in the hands of Togo and Tunisia in every tournament, unlike Djibouti that Lone Star has never played against.
Lone Star has appeared twice in the Africa Cup of Nations, 1996 and 2002 during the George Weah 11 and has since never crossed the group stage.
Many followers of the game believed that Liberia’s disappointing and incredible 2-1 loss to Ghana team B on Sunday, July 1, 2001, which denied the country to appear in the World Cup for the very first time, has hurt the progress of Liberian football.
But with the debut appearance of George Weah, Jr., Sam Johnson, Adolphus Marshall, Abel Gebor, Sekou Konneh, Inaki Williams, Alex Nimely, Chassimou Sow and Joel Alajarin and with some local players, the country may appear for the third time in the Nations Cup.