LISCR FC’s Journey to FA Cup Success

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Liberia 2016/2017 double champions and 2018 CAF Champions League representative , LISCR FC.

LISCR FC on Sunday, August 13, 2017 became winners of this year’s campaign of the Liberia Football Association Cup, the FA Cup, but difficult was this journey. Reaching the finals was not easy as the Shipping Boys were among first division clubs that were paired against strong opponents during the draw for the First Round. LISCR was paired against Watanga FC in the first round, having defeated the same Watanga 4-3 in the championship just a week before the draw. The match was a difficult clash, but LISCR FC comfortably advanced to the next round after a 2-0 win over Watanga. LISCR, during the campaign, did not have the best of ball carriers to deliver as compared to other top sides, but as stated by Coach Tapha Manneh, he trained his team to gain more stamina in order to avoid defeats. Their tactics and style of play continued to the next round.

In round two of the knockout, the Shipping Boys met their first opponents from the third division, Muscat FC. The first leg between the two sides went into LISCR’s victory archive after a 3-0 win. Muscat tried to overturn the score in the second leg, but LISCR’s tactics paid off again after a 4-4 draw that qualified them to the quarter-finals of the competition. It was another huge task in the quarter-finals. LISCR was paired against rivals FC Fassel following the draw. It was one of the intriguing fixtures in the knockout quarter-finals, the top two clubs in the championship up against each other in the quarter-finals of the knockout. The excitement was evident and the rivalry was tense.

In the first leg, LISCR was saved from defeat after one of midfielder Sekou Sheriff’s brilliant free kicks. The free kick leveled the score at 1-1 against the Soccer Missionaries at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium. In the return leg, there was only 15 minutes left to decide LISCR’s fate in the competition after it was down by a goal to nil (1-2 Aggregate). Again Coach Tapha Manneh’s changes and formation made the difference after Ghanaian striker Robert Mensah was introduced, increasing the attacking force. Less than five minutes after the substitution, LISCR through its top goal scorer, Christopher Jackson, got the equalizer that could send the game to a penalty shootout with the aggregate at 2-2. But Mensah’s introduction proved worthy after he slotted home the winning goal in stoppage time.

It was another moment of jubilation for coach Manneh and his players, having qualified to the semi-finals of the knockout and extending their unbeaten run. In the semi-finals, they were paired against the first opponents they played against in their opening match in the championship, Keitrace FC. This was the second encounter between the two sides after a one-all draw their first meeting. LISCR’s unbeaten run was finally halted after conceding a 2-3 defeat in the semis, and not many expected that score to be toppled by LISCR in the return leg. LISCR again displayed evidence that the FA Cup was its major target of the season as they produced a shocking result after comprehensively defeating Keitrace 3-0 to advance to the finals on a 5-3 aggregate.

The motivation from administration if the team becomes a double champion was a contributing factor to the 2016/2017 First division championship as the enthusiasm of winning the FA Cup could be seen on the faces of the players and staff. The final was quite easy for the league champions after they easily edge out ELWA United 3-0 to become double champions in the 2016/2017 league season. For ELWA United, reaching the finals was not as difficult as compared to LISCR – after dropping second division side, Bea Mountain, and third division side, Freeport FC, and later getting a bye to the semi-finals.

On the other hand, LISCR managed to drop three first division opponents and third division side Muscat FC. In total, the double champions played eight games in the knockout and won five (5), drew two (2) and lost a single, its only defeat in both the knockout and championship.

Out of the eight games played, the 2010/2011 back-to-back champions scored 20 goals, and conceded nine (9).

 

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