The president of the Liberia Football Association, Musa Bility, last Monday told sports journalists that religious leaders in the country should come together and pray for the national soccer team, Lone Star, to win Sunday’s crucial Nations Cup match against Togo.
And if that advice will bear fruit, a crack team of the national soccer team yesterday could not display the highly expected level of preparedness, and as a result lost 2-0 to the U-20 national at a test match played at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium.
As a result, Mr. Bility’s appeal will demand more than praying in our various places of worship; for in sports, and in particular soccer, actions give results and not words or tears.
The two goals from the U-20 team emerged in the first half and though the senior national team could have even the score, their organization was poor, and passes intended for teammates met opponents, as they struggled to get their footing during the match.
The national U-20 team was better organized and for the first time exposed the senior team’s weaknesses that Coach James Salinsa Debbah and his technical staff would have to work on.
“Now we know where the team needs to work on,” said officials at the game, “this is why a test match is necessary so that we overcome the difficulties the players encountered in the friendly with the junior team.”
During the match, the senior side, aware of the non-competitive nature of the friendly, did not take the game as seriously as they should have; and such an attitude could change in a real match, many fans said, though they expressed the opinion that the senior team should have won the game to maintain their level.
Though national coaches were busy observing the game and assessing every department of the game – defense, forward, wings and midfield – it was evident that they were not happy with the trend of the game.
“Now we have a job to do,” one official said, “but I know that every game has its own spirit and therefore I believe that the next friendly match, even if it will be against the same junior side could see a rejuvenated Lone Star.”
Officials are planning a couple of test matches to be able to increase the players’ awareness of the big game on Sunday, since it is clear that Togo, aware that their chances for the Nations Cup stands in Sunday’s victory.
“I think the coaches will do their technical analysis to know what went wrong,” another soccer fan, with knowledge on coaching, said.
So as the countdown to Sunday June 5th begins, and with many soccer fans are hoping for the best from the national soccer team, let us hope that yesterday’s loss happened because the players were returning after several months to regroup, and be able to play for the people.
“We do not want a repeat of yesterday’s result in future friendly matches,” many soccer fans said.