LL Staff Report
Liberian English coach Peter Butler’s North African tour in July was so bad, that when his team faced Mauritania, Libya, and Algeria, his team was unrivaled and demolished— that it came as a total surprise when his contract was renewed by the Liberian FA to qualify Liberia for the next World Cup. Basically, his team lacked creativity and fighting spirit, according to football enthusiasts.
The friendlies took place in Tunisia on 11 and 14 June respectively, and 17 June against Algeria. For the friendlies, Butler called up 12 home and 10 foreign-based players, testing his team against Mauritania for the eighth time, while the game against Libya’s Mediterranean Knight was only the second meeting between the two sides.
What should have been Butler’s chance to showcase his tactical skills having been in control of the team for over two years turned out to be a flob. The Liberian coach, got a reality check by some of the continent’s most formidable sides in the friendlies. But it was in that Algeria that Butler suffered his biggest defeat and disgrace, with Algeria dominating the game from box to box. Liberia with Butler in the dough out, had only 20 percent of ball control, with 80 percent going up the North Africans and a 5-1 demolition. Algeria’s 21-year-old enterprising winger Mohamed El Amine Amoura, taught the Liberians and Butler critical lessons in how goals are scored when he netted three goals before scoring another to cap out a fine evening and form as he was unstoppable by the lackluster Stars. The lads under the Englishman seems helpless as this game was virtually a one-sided domino event. The Algerian, playmaker who plays for top-flight outfit Setif was a terror in attack with his goals coming in the 39th, 41st,47th, and 68th minutes as he tormented the defense of Liberia.
An 84th-minute penalty from Billel Messasudi added more woes to the scoreline against an outplayed Butler side.
Liberia came up on top early with Murphy Oscar Dorley ‘s 24th-minute strike that put the visitors ahead, but the celebration was short-lived as the Algerians party started, with the helpless Liberians looking on with no answers. The Algeria duel was Liberia’s third match on the tour with 12 goals conceded, losing massively to both Libya and Mauritania.
If anything, Peter Butler’s team it seems did not learn anything from the previous matches during the campaign in which his lads suffered similar defeats and deficits at the hands of The Mediterranean Knights and the Al-Murabitun. It remains to be seen if the Lone Stars can draw positives energy from those defeats as they prepare for their 2022 World qualifier opener on September 2nd against the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
One notable and positive from the matches during the friendly is that the ball movement under the English coach while dismal, seems to be improving, but his midfield is weak, lacks imagination, and is sluggish. His lads still it seems are not physically fit, bringing into question the trainers who should make sure the boys are fit.
Secondly, Butler’s lads are not good at reading the game and creating chances; they made costly mistakes during the friendlies as they were outmuscled off the ball or made wrong passes and moves that could have helped their overall game plans if they were playing smart football. Some of his players would rather dribble than pass the ball, as his players’ shots on goals were generally weak or nonexistent at all according to the match stats seen by our editors during the friendlies.
One thing is now certain, if these mistakes are not corrected, the Liberians will leave Nigeria with their tails between their legs. The last time the Lone Stars were in Nigeria, they got a 6-0 spanking from the Super Eagles, the outcries were so loud from fans and sportswriters that Coach Kaetu Smith was asked to resign. Hence if the Englishman, Peter Butler wants to keep his fat contract with the nation’s pride and joy and the Liberian FA, he will need to do more, or else his head will be on the silver platter.
Main Photo: Englishman Peter Butler