Op-ed Sports 

Liberian-Tunisian Cracker: Coach Ignores Ronaldinho Wleh

Hawa Wesseh

Budding star Patrick ‘Ronaldinho’ Wleh, whose recent goal against English based Liverpool FC has been much talked about, by international football journalists, has been left out of the Lone Stars’ squad, as Liberia meets Tunisia in September this year in the afcons qualifier, which nations cup will be played by elite African nations in 2017. The gala is Africa’s biggest football festival which comes around every two years with 16 teams participating.

The Liberian caretaker is yet to win any of his matches in charge, reports say, since he was named coach to the prestigious Lone Stars’ position. Football observers say the coach has also been careless in the his selection of team players, leading to the defeats he has suffered so far.

Coach Debbah went to the match with Togo a month ago leaving out the entire squad that has anchored the team in recent years, and Ronaldinho was one of them; he have lost two matches away—2-1 against the Sparrow Hawks of Togo [afcons], and 3-1, to the Sylli Nationale of Guinea [chan], while drawing one at home. The Liberian coach has probably not learnt from his mistakes, his critics have said.

Rising star, Patrick Ronaldinho styled for for Malaysian Premier League Club PKNS, and has been one of the few bright stars for the national side in recent years, having gone through the Liberian youth program that was begun by former Liberian Hungarian coach Bertalan Bicskei, six years ago. Ronaldinho Wleh has not disappointed, showing promise every time he was called to national duty. At club level he has scored more than 40 goals since 2012.

According to the Monrovia Inquirer Online “Wleh has been in top form since his return from knee injury [in July this year,] scoring four goals [while putting in] several assists in seven league matches.”

His monster goal against Liverpool, when he styled for the Malaysia All Star last month as he ended his league suspension due to a disagreement with a match official, drew raves review from the English press against the Premiership side, Liverpool FC in a friendly encounter, as Liverpool was on an off season tour in Asia.

According to the Daily Mail,”He took 13 minutes to separate both sides with a fantastic goal though the match later ended 1-1. [Coach] Rodgers saw Liverpool fall behind in the 12th minute when Patrick Ronaldinho – a striker from Liberia who had been drafted in because of the Malaysian FA had been left short of players owing to a row with the country’s Premier League – capitalized on some weak defending.”

Still in praise of Wleh, the English Daily Mail said, Ronaldinho “was previously left out of the squad by Malaysia National team head coach Dollah Salleh, [but he] pulled out a brilliant performance in a friendly against the Malaysia All Star by netting twice which prompted the technical staff to make an emergency U-turn and include the powerful front man…” And then, it added delectably, “ any comparisons with the fabled Brazilian began and ended with their name, but such was Ronaldinho’s delight, he vaulted over the advertising hoardings and ran 30 yards to join the local fans, who had come to support Rodgers’ team yet [as he] revelled in this moment.” Leaving out this mesmerizing forward his face book fans have said could hurt Liberia’s chances.

James Debbah will have his hands full when he meets the Cartage Eagles of Tunisia next month in Monrovia. Tunisia currently leads the table in Liberia’s group, which include: Togo, Djibouti and Tunisia. It is stars like Patrick Wleh, Liberian sports reporters contend who the ingenuousness coach should be counting on to salvage his dreary winning record, as he seeks to turn around the team’s fortunes.

But if Ronaldinho thought his heroics in Malaysia and especially against the well tested Liverpool football club would get him notice from the Liberian coach, he was mistaken, sadly. Included though, is Francis Forkey Doe, who plays for NS Matrix in the Malaysian Premier League and currently the highest scorer in Malaysia, who himself was left out when Liberia met Togo, despite being in fine fettle.

The Liberia Lone Stars has faded into obscurity since George Weah retired from international football years ago.

James Salinsa Debbah who has no coaching experience, before being handed the Liberian position have however included for the second time George Weah Jr, to the dismay of football commentators, for the crucial Tunisian encounter.

The 27 year old Junior Weah, has had injuries over the years and has not followed his father’s celebrated career, as have the Ayew brothers from Ghana. His last son, Timothy Weah is said to be the diamond in the rough, but analysts say it is too soon just yet to make such forecasts, as he is only 14, but that he has shown promise early.

James Salinsa Debbah is already being accused of nepotism. He is a cousin to George Manneh Oppong Weah, with sources suggesting he got nominated to the Liberian coaching position through the 1995 World and African Player, who commands enormous football influence in the West African country, and has turn deaf ears to those who say Junior Weah should not make that cut, ahead established players like Ronaldinho who have justified their inclusion, but are being left out.

Oppong Manneh Weah heads the powerful Youth and Sports Sub Committee in the Liberian Senate, and is particularly closed friends with FA president Musa Bility and Edwin Snowe. Snowe was influential in Weah’s senate campaign and is also Montserrado County Representative in the Liberian Assembly, and a past FA president, also.

Liberian football observers say it is just a matter of time before stars like Wleh got called, he has the talent and the right attitude, and has done enough since he burst on the scene to wear the national colors and play for his country.

Wleh score against Liverpool FC pic: www.staronline.com.my

Liberian Lone Stars team for Tunisia clash
1. Francis Grandpa Doe–NS Matrix, Malaysia] 2. Gizzie Dorbor–Hapoel Afula, Israel] 3. William Jebor–SD Ponferradina, Spain] 4. Anthony Laffor–Mamelodi–Sundowns South Africa] 5. Sekou JabatehOliseh–Unattached]
6. George Weah, Jr–Unattached] 7. Adolphus Nagbe Marshall–Unattached] 8. Sekou Konneh–Fortuna Sittard, Holland] 9. Tonia Tisdell–Osmanlıspor, Turkey] 10. Teah Dennis–Al-Ahli, Jordan]

11. DirkirGlay–GorMahia, Kenya] 12. Patrick Gerhardt–Sarawak FA, Malaysia] 13. Sam Johnson–Djurgårdens IF, Sweden] 14. Zah Krangar–Felda United FC, Malaysia] 15. Solomon Grimes–Nea Salamis Famagusta, Cyprus] 16. Herron Berrian–Platanias, Greece] 17. Sporo Somah–Sewe Sports, Ivory Coast] 18. AmadiayaRennie–Brann, Norway] 19. Melvin King–Oman] 20. Murphy Oscar Dorley–Local, Ghana] 21. Raymond Fransia– Ghana] 22. Trokon Zeon– LISC FC]

Coach: James Salinsa Debbah

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