Ahead of the resumption of the debut pre-season club competition, which resumes today at the Blue Field with a round of knockout amongst four finalists, the simply question is: WHO WILL LIFT THE COCA-COLA CUP?
The 9-day tournament, which brought eight top teams together, as of last Friday put fans to their heels with extreme excitement over the tournament since the suspension of all football activities in June 2014.
Interestingly, Chief Patron of Sports President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s conviction that football is the heartbeat of the youth was reconfirmed during her presence in BYC’s 2-0 win over Barrolle.
Frankly, the mixed feelings from the tournament – the resentment, desperation, disappointment, joy and appreciation are inarguably transforming the players’ minds from the scourge of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), which was so well-said by Sales Operation Manager of the Liberia Coca-Cola Bottling Company (LCCBC), Emmanuel C. Boyejio.
Let’s look at the teams and the fixture:
In the opener of today’s semi finals, Group A leader BYC will host Group B runner-up, the Majesty IE at 2:00pm.
BYC emerged at the top with a clean sheet – winning all her games, though with a low scoreline, and didn’t concede a goal. Coach Robert Larteh’s boys whipped Nimba United 1-0; Barrolle 2-0 and LISCR 1-0.
With the superb performance of BYC in the preliminary round, this shouldn’t be a debate of being the most favorite, but there’s a real case for anyone to invoke the adage which says ‘the race is not for the swift but those who endure to the end.”
Probably this might be a promising idyllic for motivation but there are seven marveled players, which IE should look, if she wants to shoot BLUE down.
Mark Paye: This attacking midfielder scored the opening and winning goal against Nimba United. He is not only a goal getter, but also one of the highest assisters in goal and entirely able to defend.
Chris Momo and Trokon Myers: The controversial IE attacking midfielder Chris Momo got the first goal in the Barrolle’s 2-0 defeat, while former LFA and BYC’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) Trokon Myers’ late goal was enough to pack the Rollers home. Chris is another player who assists in goal though not too strong to defend but skills to enable him to penetrate defense. Trokon is dangerous from the bench and that gives him the edge to become valuable on the team.
Lamine Jabateh: This BYC most dependable striker came into the limelight when he scored the equalizer in the first leg against Real de Banjul in Banjul, The Gambia. Lamine’s lone strike convinced LISCR about its discontinuation in the tournament.
Junior Barshall: The defensive midfielder isn’t only good at controlling the middle, but has pressure in defending and good at scoring from a distance. His late goal got his side the 3rd Super Cup.
Van Dave-Harmon: Even though, it’s not confirmed that the midfield cum striker would play today’s game owing to his return from the U-23 7-1 aggregate defeat in Ghana, he’s a goal getter and another ball distributor. He raised the first curtain in the Super Cup derby.
Nathaniel Sherman remains the nation’s best goalie and didn’t receive a goal as well as substitute goalie, Winston Sayouh.
As for IE, she is the most decorated team in the tournament on the book with 13 titles and last won the championship in 2007. IE is also called Liberia’s darling club or Sunshine Yellow boys.
The invincibility of IE was visible in the 1960s, early 1980s and the late 1990s and once in the 2000s, particularly 2007. Recent form shows that the once-upon-a-time IE has lost its unassailable supremacy and struggling to keep up the tact.
Howbeit, IE’s three games in the preliminary round against BYC must be heedful of the Sunshine Boys during the expected sunny day.
The Papa Kamara boys also have seven amazing players that blend with their skills to probably square BYC.
Sholle Deco Quoi: This #10 player is incredibly the most skillful player in the tournament. He is also a midfielder cum striker, who dribbles, defends and assists and hardly be offended. He scored the equalizing goal against NPA Anchors and FC Fassell.
Morris Sando: IE’s potent striker has advantage in the air, but also well at working on the ground. He netted the winging goal against Aries FC.
Bob Zeo: This desperate right attacking midfielder is not only a dribbler but penalty converter owing to his trickery running-dribbling and short-dribbler. He is also a fine shooter and defender – but has short time on the field owing to his age.
Morris Doe and Morris Kabah: These pair helps to control and mend IE’s middle and can’t even lose their teeth to distribute the ball around to get a win.
Central defender Ronaldo Dahn is a tough and aggressive defender who always goes for the ball, not for the player. The gangling defender is best in the air, with the intuition that by using your head you can avoid unnecessary mistakes.
Goalie Peter Soigbeh is mentally tough, strong in the air and good at positioning.
Nimba United and NPA anchors
Nimba United scored the highest goals in the tournament, whipping newly promoted first division club and tournament favorite FC Fassell 4-0.
Anchors drew with IE 1-1, but defeated Aries FC 2-0.
The team’s quadruplet, Jimmy Taylue, Emmanuel Call, Bill Hiah and Kelvin Dixon are the reason of the team’s qualification.
Strikers Jestihno Dixon, Mitis Mulbah and Weaka Peter are another set of NPA players that can sustain attack for a win.
As for Nimba United, the most sensational player is Elijah Garlo, his brace got the qualification against FC Fassell. He is capable of scoring an unassisted goal.
The likes of George Allison, Titus Cooper and Papie Johson are adept at causing a stir against the Anchors.
Other dependable and potent players of Nimba United are Barbon Kollie, Momolu Kiazolu and defender Darlington Pailey, also talented at scoring goals, converting penalties, and keeping on the formation to win.
Pathetically, only two teams will advance to Sunday’s grand final with US$2,000 and US$1,000 at stake, while the two losers will enjoy wearing free warm-up jerseys, water and non-alcoholic drinks.