The first week of this month was a busy week for the national soccer teams of several African countries. It was a period when they engaged in friendly international matches to test their preparedness for 2019 African Cup of Nations.
Guinea’s national soccer team defeated the crowning African soccer champions, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon 2-1, in a match played in Belgium.
The Guineans had tied 2-2 with Gabon in France. Egypt defeated Togo 3-0 in Alexandria and South Africa drew 0-0 with Angola in East London (South Africa). Mozambique beat Lesotho 1-0 and Tanzania defeated Burundi 2-1.
In preparation for the 2017 Total U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon, Ghana’s Satellites were held 2-2 by Tanzania.
These countries also took advantage of the FIFA international window to play friendly matches to show their teams’ strengths and recognize their weaknesses; and thereafter strengthen them for the real competitions.
In all the above, something was missing: Liberia’s Lone Star did not go anywhere. Liberia did not take advantage of the FIFA international window for friendly matches and yet Liberia will be paired against some of the very teams that have been playing friendly matches and strengthening their defenses and attacks.
Perhaps someone might say that Liberia does not need friendly matches and the fact that national head coach James Salinsa Debbah did not express any regret for his team’s failure to take part in important test matches should be enough to convince fans all is fine with the national team.
However, information from the Liberia Football Association suggests that among all football nations in Africa, Liberia wanted to travel to violence-filled Libya to play its friendly match but the Liberian government did not think Tripoli was the best place to test a football team.
Then I learned that Liberia wanted to engage Tanzania for a test match but the arrangement did not go through; and so the bottom line is that without any of those excuses, Liberia did not take advantage of the window to assemble her players for any meaningful test match.
Officials at the LFA told the Daily Observer that the government should not have cancelled their trip to Libya because after all Ghana’s Black Stars recently camped there without problems.
In fact Liberia was one of the few countries that sent its national team to then violence-filled Iraq to play a friendly soccer match in Baghdad, of all places on earth, and later received an undisclosed sum of money from the Iraqi Football Association.
The President of the Liberia Football Association, Mr. Musa Bility is a good friend of FIFA President Gianni Infantino and he is a member of CAF Executive Committee. And truly, it is the first time for a Liberian football official to rise to such a level, which is commendable.
Since that is the case, then Liberia Football authorities should demonstrate a good example and convince us why their new positions at CAF and FIFA must be celebrated.
If we cannot assemble our players to play test matches as others are doing, how sincere can we be about the future of the national team’s players to represent us in any future competitions? The results will be poor for sure.