Guinea has qualified for the second phase of the qualifying series for the 2016 African Nations Championship on a 4-2 aggregate over Liberia.
Syli Nationale qualified following a pulsating 1-1 draw against the Lone Star – of their second leg – yesterday at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium in Monrovia.
In the first leg, about two weeks, the local Lone Star bowed 3-1 to Guinea in Bamako, Mali – their home ground because of the outbreak of the Ebola Virus.
Sunday’s game was overwhelming, witnessed by a record crowd and marked the country’s first home game since the outbreak of the Ebola virus in March 2014.
Coach James Salinsa Debbah’s boys converted the first goal in the 36th minute from a spot kick by Vitalie Sieh.
Liberia’s imminent celebrated star, Sholee ‘Deco’ Quioh was knocked down in front of goalie Abdulah Sylia as a result of a triangular pass, involving Oscar Dolley, Zare David and Quioh.
The red-white-and-blue boys swirled their crowd with an edgy spectacular “Brazilian one-touch-and pass’ performance in the dying minutes to the 1st half break, even though the Guineans were aggressive to rotate the goal.
The Guinean quartet – Sekou Kamara, Musa Diawara, Kollie Banagora and Douch Kamara made inroads but their shots, dribbling and passes could not help them to reach the Samson Gidding’s woodworks.
Lone Star started the second half with Alpha James replacing injured Raymond Fanciah, but could not keep the pace amid their determination to multiply the tally to 2-0 to qualify over the Guineans.
It could have been pep talk and incessant cheers from officials, coaches and fans that must have bolstered Syli Nationale’s coordination when a first offside was called against Douch Kamara in the second half.
In the 58th minute, Kollie Banagora, superbly crossed through three Lone Star players and flapped the ball wide from goalie Giddings to level the score.
Lone Star increased the struggle with the introduction of James Soto Roberts – substituting Mohammed Varney, but the careless tumble of Quioh and the hit on the woodwork from Roberts head-up were enough to send the Lone Star packing.
According to football analysts, there were lot of faulty passes by Lone Star, and the team lacked finishing clinical players – players who kicked in the goal.
The Guineans were more composed than the Liberians and played the ball long – but the Liberians were strong-minded but lacked focus and look tired.
Former Liberian FIFA World Best Player, Sen. George M. Weah, former LFA President – Rep. Edwin M. Snowe and Rep. Saah Jospeh were amongst some officials who witnessed the game.
Yesterday’s game has totaled Coach Debbah’s game to three, losing two and drawing one; and has been dropped from one of the two continental qualifiers.
It may be recalled that in June, Liberia lost her first game to Togo (2-1) in Lome, in the 2017 African Cup of Nations Qualifiers.
Coach Debbah lost her 2nd game in Mali against Guinea, 3-1 and drew 1-1 in the return.
Meanwhile, many football fans are wondering as to whether the country could qualify in the remaining tournament over the relatively poor performance.
Having lost in her first game – but, relatively a good loss, the Lone Star, between the weekends of September 4-6, will play host to the Carthage Eagles, dubbed Les Aigles de Carthage of Tunisia in her second match at home.
On the weekend of March 23-26, 2016, Lone Star would play her second away game in Djibouti City against Djibouti’s national football team, nicknamed the Riverains de la Mer Rouge – Shore-men of the Red Sea.
The Shore-men of the Red Sea are expected to play their return leg on the weekend of March 26-29, 2016 in Monrovia (if Liberia is free of the Ebola virus) – which would mark Liberia’s fourth game in the 2017 Afcon qualifiers.
Liberia would also play host to the Sparrow Hawks of Togo on the weekend of June 3-5, 2016 and play her last game away in Tunis against the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia on the weekend of September 2-4, 2016.