If they focus, follow instructions and just play as they know how
The national soccer team, Lone arrived in Brazzaville, Congo yesterday in what the Daily Observer sports reporter, accompanying the team, Anthony Kokoi, described as “a rough flight from Nairobi, Kenya.”
He said the plane touched down at 10:00 AM (9:00 AM Liberia time) and was received by officials of the Congolese Football Federation at the Maya Maya International Airport. Lone Star will on Sunday meet their Congolese counterparts in the qualifying rounds of the 2019 Nations Cup in Cameroon.
Head Coach Thomas Kojo and the playing team are aware of the reason they are in Brazzaville, just how the Congolese know why they also are playing in the tournament: they want to win to build their chances for the finals in Cameroun. And of course, they know that in the qualifying series they represent their country and therefore their people expect much from them.
And Liberians expect the same from their players!
The truth is Liberia is not in the competition to play in an Olympic sport whether they win or not. Liberia wants to be represented in the finals and that is the truth of it. In Lone Star’s last encounter against DR Congo, the players played all the right strings only to falter from the 81st minute. It is becoming an accepted fact that 90 minutes are too much for the Lone Star to hold themselves against their opponents.
Recent history weighs heavily against their inability to control a game in their favor for the 90 minutes of play. I am sure Coach Kojo can bear me out since he has been around the national team for sometimes now. In fact, the evidence was clear to him when DR Congo after their equalizer in the 81st minutes turned Lone Star’s defense into shreds and kept the pressure on his boys and I almost fell from my chair.
We can also recall with pain when Adebayo led his Togolese brothers to Liberia and while the Lone Star had run ahead in the lead, fatigue and other circumstances set in that eventually denied Lone Star the much-needed victory at home.
In fact, former national coach James Salinsa Debbah’s role in the inglorious draw is still spoken about in local soccer circles. Claiming that his back was ‘hurting’ him, Salinsa sat on the spot reserved for a coach to direct their players and did not engage in directing his players when they seemed to be overlooking playing instructions.
The players, we are all aware, are based abroad and clearly, Coach Kojo did not have them together as a group. The three foreign-based players Murphy Dorley, Sylvanus Nimely and Adolphus Marshall, according to reporter Akoi, have joined the team.
And I can bet my pen that the Congolese face the same problem where their stars joined them in the last minute which should suggest to the players that their Congolese counterparts have not had extraordinary opportunities in their preparation for this Sunday’s match.
Playing at home, the Congolese will be seeking for an early lead that most often seems to dampen the fighting spirit of the most determined team. Lone Star should be above that and be cautious as the serpent. Lone Star, despite away pressure, should work together as a team and make a difference.
The players should know that if they want to qualify for next year’s Nations Cup in Cameroun then they must play as they have never played before in any match.
We wish them good luck!