Listener staff report
Liberia Lone Stars went on all cylinders on September 8th as they took on the fancied Super Eagles of Nigeria in the Afcons qualifications slated for South Africa next year in Monrovia. The Liberian trio of Tonia Tisdell, Sekou Oliseh Jabateh and Zah Kranger prove too much for the Eagles to handle.
The Nigerians seem surprised by the quickness of their opponents and the grit of a side they were suppose to dominate according to pundits, when Liberia raised the goal curtain as early as the fourth minute, through Turkish based Tonia Tisdell of Saliufaspor FC, who intercepted a pass from Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) playmaker Isaac Pupo, an opportunity he utilized.
Tisdell roasted Nigerians defenders and World Cup tested goal keeper Vincent Enyeama, when he blasted home the goal, by going first on the score sheet before Liberia football crazy fans of 40,000 at the Monrovia Sport Complex in Monrovia which was decked in national colors red white and blue. His early goal sent the stadium to a frenzy celebration.After scoring the early goal, Kaetu Smith and his lads went to sleep.
Liberia’s lead sparked a current in the Nigerian side as they fought back and were rewarded for their efforts in the 13th min, when a crossed from Ejike Uzoenyi was deflected by the outstanding Liberia goalie Nathaniel Sherman which was intercepted and slotted home by Real Betis striker Nosa Igiebor.Nigeria would go ahead again in the 17th min. when Chelsea’s ‘wonder boy’ Victor Moses capitalized on a defensive blunder, was fouled in the box, and Spain based Ike Uche converted the penalty for the Eagles to take the lead.
Liberia immediately went on the hunt for goals, but to no avail, even though, they troubled the Nigerian defense with a lively midfield that was strong for the Nigerians to contain, as the first stanza ended 2-1.
With the Steve Keshi side sitting comfortably with the lead, Liberia took the game to the two times African champions by battling the Super Eagles boot to boot on home turf for an equalizer. And the man called to do the job was the CSKA Moscow based dribbling wizard Sekou Oliseh Jabateh, whose mesmerizing moves and footworks left jaws dropping at the Monrovia Sports Complex, and then Liberia equalized.
Jabateh 66th min. goal which stunned the Nigerians came as a result of a well calculated passed from the talented Indonesia based Zah Kranger. The equalizer sent the Liberians to a euphoric celebration with the score line at 2-2. Jabateh before the match had warned the Nigerians that his side would take the game to them, and he live up to billing.Another thunder fired by Kranger beat Vincent Enyeama but hit the post, and ricocheted for the Nigerian keeper to grab.
Another goal by Liberia was considered to have been score from an off-side position.The Super Eagles under Steve Keshi a.k.a. ‘the big boss’ is yet to win away since he took over the team, drawing recently to Niger, Malawi, Rwanda and now Liberia.
While coach Kaetu Smith team it seem is unable to hold on to early leads. The Lone Star squandered an early lead in June this year in Dakar Senegal when it went ahead as early as the 2nd minute through a Francis Doe clinical finish, eventually losing that game 3-1, and again against Nigeria through Tisdell’s 4th minute effort.
The second leg is expected to take place in October in Calabar, Nigeria. Meanwhile Zah Kranger scored a brace when Liberia in a friendly beat the Black Stars of Ghana full squad that included Asamoah Gyan 2-0, three days after their trilling clash with the Eagles.
Afcons weekend results
Zambia 1 – 0 Uganda, Central African Rep. 1 – 0 Burkina Faso, Gabon 1- 1 Togo, Ghana 2 – 0 Malawi, Sierra Leone 2 – 2 Tunisia, Cape Verde 2 – 0 Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire 4 – 2 Senegal, Mali 3 – 0 Botswana, Sudan 5 – 3 Ethiopia, Liberia 2 – 2 Nigeria, Zimbabwe 3-1 Angola, Mozambique 2-0 Morocco, DR Congo 4-0 Equatorial Guinea