Before Lone Star’s unimpressive show against the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia last Sunday in their final match of the Gabon 2017 qualifying round, objective soccer fans and analysts did not give Liberia a winning chance.
It was not because those who were of the opinion that Lone Star could not win over Tunisia were not patriotic. It was simply because they were aware of how poorly Lone Star prepared for matches against their past opponents.
In Liberia’s campaign for the 2017 Gabon Nations Cup, the Lone Star played twice, both home and away, against Togo, Tunisia, and soccer poor Djibouti – who losses against all their opponents in the tournament were massive.
When Liberia played her first game against Togo, Lone Star scored an early goal; and later broke down as the Togolese with the incredible Adebayo in their midst collected the maximum three points with a 2-1 win. What did the LFA do to ensure that the Togolese were taught the same lesson on the return leg in Monrovia?
Available records at the LFA indicate that the Lone Star’s technical team just waited for their next match against Tunisia in Monrovia. Though most of the national team players are not in the big leagues in Europe, the LFA could not get the players home for the coaches to work on their shortcomings that were glaring in their Togolese match in Lome.
Then the Tunisians came, aided by a thundering rain, Grandpa Doe’s lone goal gave the technical team and many others the ‘false’ hope that Liberia was ready to take on the world. It was interesting to hear honorable men and women in the House of Representatives telling the whole world that Liberia was ready to take on even Barcelona.
And why were they jubilating with a high sense of optimism? Why, Lone Star defeated Tunisia 1-0 and therefore Liberia was ready. Goal-starved Liberian soccer fans yearning for victory at any cost soon forgot the loss to Togo and started saying Coach James Debbah was doing well. Really?
What compounded the “false” sense of Liberia’s readiness were the following two victories against poor Djibouti, when Liberia beat them both away and at home.
So by the time Togo came for the return leg it was evidently clear that the mindset of many Liberians was that Liberia could not be stopped. However, when the team failed to hold on to their early two-goal lead and succumbed to a 2-2 draw the alarm bells started ringing that all was not well.
By then it was too late but many did not see it that way.
Considering Liberia’s poor away record and in this case in a final contest that would determine Tunisia and Liberia’s next qualification for the 2017 Gabon Nations’ Cup, it did not need any ‘zoe’ from Nimba County to have informed objective soccer fans that the game was over for Liberia.
Now that the team is not going anywhere, what is next? We expect someone to say something to us about what is going to happen, with emphasis on the lessons learned from our failure to qualify for next year’s Nations Cup in Gabon.