During his playing days in the 1980s, James Salinsa Debbah, the current national soccer coach of Liberia, was known as the ‘Miracle Man.’
I know the reader may want to know how he came by that accolade. In brief, Salinsa – that was his popular name – was comfortable with the number 10 jersey, and always played at the inside left position.
So whenever the national team, Lone Star, or his club team, Mighty Barrolle, was in a tight situation, like what the national team is facing with Ivory Coast, Salinsa would perform so well he would deliver, not only the victory but, the results needed.
In his days, he was much loved by Liberians because, along with his teammates, he would produce to warm the hearts of the people.
Though initially he did not want to use coaching as his career – he said so at one time – he is now head of the team, and he faces a difficult challenge against Ivory Coast.
Many Liberians are now asking whether he could call on the past to influence the future. This afternoon, at the Houphoeut Boigny Sports Stadium in Abidjan, instead of the central town of Bouake’ as it was reported in this newspaper yesterday, Lone Star will settle the final decider in a foreign land.
Many Liberians were satisfied how Lone Star responded to the occasion during the first leg last Friday, after the Ivorians had dominated the first 45 minutes.
By the second half, Liberia had called off the bluff of the Elephants; and with seeming danger, the huge Elephants resorted to tactics that were too frustrating for Lone Star. Evidently, Salinsa took notice of that kind of play and would not let that overwhelm the team in this afternoon’s encounter.
Admittedly, the Ivorians can now admit that the current group of players featuring for the national team wants to change history. The first one they changed was refusing to concede more than one goal Ivory Coast, as it was in the past, and forcing the Ivorians to tread carefully with frustrating tactics.
The second history they intend on making is to prove to the Ivorians that the legacy that George Weah and company – Salinsa included – left is being picked up by the current players to demand their place in African soccer.
I need to add that at this particular period of the team’s history, the Lone Star has an equal chance of winning today as the Ivorians had in the first game. And that is why I also need to remind my readers of the positive sentiments that former President Edwin Barclay challenged Liberians in his immortal Anthem ‘The Lone Star Forever,’ below:
“Then forward, sons of Freedom, March!
Defend the sacred heritage!
The nation’s call form age to age
Where’er it sounds ‘neath Heaven’s arch.
Wherever foes assail.
Be ever ready to obey.
‘Gainst treason and rebellion’s front,
‘Gainst foul aggression. In the brunt
Of battle lay the hero’s way!
All hail, Lone Star, all hail”