The hierarchy of the Liberia Football Association (LFA) has decided to pay each of the 19 players on the Junior Lone Star team US$500 as a qualification bonus over the Young Elephants on Sunday in Abidjan.
This mean, Junior Lone Star, dubbed the Satellite, needs at least a draw to qualify to benefit from the qualification bonus besides their already pocketed US$100 appearance fee or per diem.
The Sunday’s game is the return leg (2nd leg) between the Lone Star and the Young Elephants after a scrappy 1-0 win in favor of the red-blue-and-white boys in the preliminary’s second round of the U-20 CAF Championship.
The 2nd Vice President of the LFA, Cassel A. Ku oh made the disclosure Thursday at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) a minute before their departure, as they boarded the bus for the Robert International Airport (RIA) to fly to Abidjan.
"Each player will be entitled to US$500 if we manage to qualify against the Ivory Coast on Sunday,” Mr. Kouh said. “The challenge is yours to put up [a] fight to make us proud.”
Cassell’s assertion had been construed asva personal initiative; but a follow-up interviewed with the LFA 2nd Vice President has clarified that the qualification bonus is the LFA’s, though the Secretary General Alphonso Armah and the Deputy Secretary General of Finance, Jallah Corvah, are not in the know.
According to Cassell, the qualification bonus is the LFA’s way and mechanism to motivate the boys in the tricky return leg clash with the spirited Young Elephants in their home.
It is a glaring fact, despite of the friendship between Youth and Sports Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe and the LFA president Musa Bility, that the Chief Patron of Sports, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has deliberately ignored the two-legged Lone Star (national Lone Star football team). The executive members of the LFA, especially Bility and Cassell, have been underwriting the cost of the teams’ expenses. Accordingly, both equally men contributed US$40,000 and each LFA’s executive member was taxed US$100 to support the hosting of Lesotho.
But football pundits believe the qualification bonus is probably meant to erase or settle the LFA’s embarrassment, owing to their inability to usually camp the team before departing the country to honor international football clashes.
It can be recalled, shamefully, on Monday, the 38-year-old Junior Lone Star coach expressed frustration on the failure of the LFA to camp the team, before departing the country. Coach Pella startlingly revealed that after the 1-0 victory last Sunday, May 11, 2014, the team has not gone to camp and would not be camping before their flight.
He said camping is a tactic to polish and psychologically prepare for a win, and that the major achievement in camping is to knit a team’s spirit.
“We use camping to talk to the players during their leisure time at night and early morning hours, to build closeness among the players,” he said, “camping is another method to circumvent players from conflict and embarrassment.”
Perhaps we can argue that a win, or better yet a qualification, of the Junior Lone Star over the Ivory Coast could overturne the President’s detestation against the two-legged Lone Star for continuously losing amidst huge financial assistance.
Interestingly and recently, the truth came out at last when the President celebrated with the one-legged Lone Star (Amputee Lone Star) for retaining the title as champions in the Africa Amputee Cup of Nations.
President Johnson Sirleaf’s positive support to the national Amputee Lone Star indicated that she is done with the loser who continues to embarrass her with disappointing results. President Sirleaf donated of a 22-seater bus to the Amputee Lone Star.
It was the president’s show of appreciation for the team’s numerous victories against other countries in football competitions—and their title Africa’s double amputee football champions.
In her last address to the nation, President Sirleaf chose, watch my word, deliberately chose to ignore the national team.
However, she commended the Amputee Lone Star for winning its version of the African Cup of Nations in Kenya.
So this Sunday, in Abidjan, the Junior Lone Star team needs to restore smiles on the faces of Liberians including the President.
In 2011, it can be recalled, the President presented the check of US$75,000, to the LFA as a bonus for the Lone Star Team’s superb performance when Ghana Black Star was pinned 2-0 and the team drew with the Super Eagles of Nigeria, 2-2.
President Sirleaf said she was very pleased with the performance of the national team, pledged government’s full support to the national team in its pre- and post-qualification games leading up to the 2013 African Cup of Nations tournament to be held in South Africa.
Smilingly, she said there was a need to provide support to the national unifier and also called for a more structured and systematic support to the team, not only during games but also after, and with a long-term strategy.
“It is time to support our national team, and we are going to work with the Ministries of Finance, Youth and Sports and the Liberia Football Association to realize this goal,” the President stated.
The President’s happiness over the splendid performance of the Lone Star attracted partners, friends and well wishes.
Cellcom GSM Company was proud to support the Lone Star teams, but later withdrew, because of disappoint results.
So, it is correct to state here that if the national teams want the president’s support in every way as well as sponsorship, then this Sunday should be the beginning of a new direction.
It means that on this Sunday against the Young Elephants and next Sunday, against the Crocodiles of Lesotho, the Lone Star teams must win.
I am sincerely convinced that President Sirleaf has not ignored the national team because she does not believe in the players. She is unhappy because previous efforts to help the team to soar did not go as expected, and the team’s losses may have affected the president’s national transformation agenda.
If that is not the case, how else should the president’s cold shoulder towards the national team should be understood?