President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf yesterday watched with satisfaction as the Lone Star, the national soccer team, sponsored by Cellcom/Orange, hammered their Djibouti counterparts, the Shoremen of the Red Sea, 5-0 to increase their chances for the finals in 2017 in Gabon.
Liberia now tops Group A with 9 points with Tunisia and Togo with seven points each. Tunisia and Togo settled to a 0-0 draw yesterday in Lomé. Liberia has two more games: next against Togo in Monrovia and later, Tunisia in Tunis.
Recall that during Liberia’s first match with Togo in Lomé, Liberia scored first before the incredible Adebayor called on his magic to cancel the lead, and then finding the winner in the close of the game.
Now having discovered their scoring boots, Liberia by defeating Djibouti with such a wide margin is sounding a warning to Togo that they are next.
In yesterday’s crucial game at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS), Liberia began their goal harvest in the 8th minute when hard running Anthony Laffor converted a spot kick after goal-hunter William Jebbor, who would go ahead and repeat his hat trick against Guinea Bissau recently, was brought down in the 18 yard box.
The goal set the ATS alive as thousands of Liberians began the celebration and it was Sam Johnson, who increased the score line in the 26th minute to give the assurance that more goals were coming. Djibouti players tried to impose themselves on the game, but the Liberians’ aggression in attack could not grant them any opportunity and by the end of the first half, Liberia was ahead with 2-0.
And the celebration continued
Back from recess, William Jebor finished off a beautiful combination with his men up front to put his side at 3-0 and the teeming fans were still celebrating and calling for more goals when Jebor responded to their appeals to slam home the fourth goal.
Like their character, Djibouti does not let losses dampen their spirit, but it went out of character when their Tunisian coach Noureddine Gharsalli reacted unfavorably as his side hit the ball in Lone Star’s net when an infringement had already been called and he was subsequently ordered out of the perimeter of the pitch.
Liberia resorted to a relaxed game and pushed the ball around, as Coach James Debbah began to experiment with a couple of his new players. Sekou Konneh, Dauda Bortu and Dulee Johnson made their appearance and piled up fire upon the visitors.
With 4-0 against them, Djibouti, who lost 8-1 to Tunisia in their first game, fought back, pushing the ball around and trying to make a difference to at least secure a consolation. They perhaps, were playing on the principle that one must die like a hero, as they pushed on with success.
But it was against such a trend that strikers Dauda, Konneh and Dio Williams’ connection found unmarked William Jerboe waiting for business as usual and his powerful shot went into the net before the goalkeeper could know where it was.
With such an incredible score-line, Liberia now awaits their encounter with Togo in Monrovia in a match that many soccer fans, said should bring out the best in the players.
For the record, Djibouti has had misfortunes in the development of their football. After gaining independence in 1977, the team played under the name Djibouti for the first time against Ethiopia in an away match on 27 March 1983 and lost 8–1. The two played again two days later with Ethiopia again victorious, by 4–2. After a third friendly against Ethiopia, a 2–0 home defeat on 23 March 1984, Djibouti entered a tournament in Ethiopia against the host and Zimbabwe. They lost 2–0 to Ethiopia on 3 June and then 3–1 to Zimbabwe on 7 June.
In 1986, Djibouti hosted three friendlies against Ethiopia, losing 5–1 on 14 March. It later earned its first draw (1–1) on 18 March. The squad lost the third friendly 2–0 on 3 June. On 9 August, the team played its first ever African Games qualifier for the 1987 All-Africa Games in Kenya and lost 7–1. Djibouti did not play another international until 26 February 1988, beating South Yemen 4–1 at home for their first ever victory.
Lone Star: Tommy Songo, Teah Dennis, Solo Grimes, Hilton Varney, Omega Roberts, Theo Weeks, Dio Williams, Anthony Laffor, Sam Johnson, William Jebor and Arsene Keita; Sekou Konneh, Dauda Bortue and Dulee Johnson.