Liberia Lone Star fades in Dakar

Listener Staff Report

Liberia squandered an early lead in Dakar on Saturday June 2, 2012 when Senegal came from behind to win their opening World Cup qualifier 3-1 against the Lone Star.  Francis Forkey Doe’s (Terengganu FC, Malaysia) second minute target was the only effort at goal that Liberia recorded in the FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifier against the Teranga Lions. Attacking to erase the Liberians early goal, Senegal fought back at the Leopold Sedar Senghor Stadium in their back yard, wrestling the the lead away.

Liberian football analysts say, the defeat in Senegal was expected, because the Lone Star was not ready and its preparations leading up the tie dismal, especially so when Senegal’s top players all play in the advance French and European Leagues, compared to their Liberian counterparts who play in Asia, and elsewhere.

The Liberia football Association under the Musa Bility led administration must ask itself the hard questions since it made no serious efforts to have the Lone Star play a competitive test match, not even neighboring West African states, fans have said, instead the new Liberian coach  Kaetu Smith and the FA was happy enough to oversee  warm-up practice matches  against ex-Liberian internationals who rarely play any vigorous football. The National team also hosted the  local outfit Fatu FC.

Leading up to the match with Liberia, Senegal beat Morocco in a friendly on May 25 in Marrakech, indicating they took the Lone Star and their chances seriously, The Lions recent win comes on the heels of a disappointing appearance in the 2012 African Cup of nations held in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, the team though star studded and expected to do well crashed in the early stages.

Like Liberia, Senegal has an indigenous coach, Joseph Koto.   Senegal appointed Frenchman Pierre Lechantre as coach in April. He resigned weeks later when his demand for a three month salary advance payment was denied by the Senegalese FA. The Frenchman resignation led to Koto’s appointment.

Liberian football observers are also concerned that the selection of the new Lone Star coach by the Liberian FA was rushed and brash. He was selected over the brilliant upcoming young Liberian coach Thomas Kodjo. Kodjo took the Liberian under 23 team to Nigeria last year and won bronze, beating power house Ghana for third place and giving Nigeria a run for their money in the West African Football Union Cup (WAFU). Kodjo also gave Liberia a win against Namibia in Monrovia this year after a long spell of losses, which saw the Italian Roberto Landi being fired. Kodjo currently coaches in South Africa.

Even George Weah, the Liberian legend who rarely comment on Liberian football having decided he would pursue his interests in politics called the BBC to complain that overlooking Kodjo was unfortunate.  Said the 1995 world FIFA footballer, “I know Thomas Kodjo quite alright and his qualities. I can’t still understand why he was sacked and replaced… I think that choice, that decision from the Football Association was a mistake and not a good choice for us and our football.”

Kaetu, according to sport writers Omari Jackson and Wleh Bedell have no serious record as a coach; even though, he possesses a FIFA License A Certificate. They argued that a coach qualification has nothing to do with his technical expertise and achievement, both of them wrote commentaries in the Liberian online site to registered their opinions. Most of his experience reports indicate was coaching youths and female football teams. He therefore has a lot of convincing to do to allay the fears of Liberia’s football loving fans .

Kaetu Smith now will have to beat Angola next week in Monrovia for Liberia to revive its hopes in the race to Brazil in 2014, observers have said. “There is huge support for the Lone Star in Liberia. In a country so much divided, everyone rallies around the team. When it plays even political foes put aside their differences,” a local sports writer said. The Liberian leader granted the national team an audience before they traveled  to Dakar, while appropriating about 2m in the draft fiscal budget currently under review, according to information gathered.

In Dakar on Saturday, the newly minted Senegalese captain Papiss Cisse who plays in the English Premier League forNewcastle missed a penalty, but his team mate Ibrahima Balde equalised before halftime. Balde plies his trade for Osasuna in Spain.

Substitute Dame Ndoye who plays for FC Copenhagen, Denmark, and French-based midfielder Sadio Mane scored one goal apiece after the break. Ndoye’s goal in the 71st minute came after Liberia had defender Solomon Grimes sent off for his second booking due to a hard tackle. Mane is also included in the Senegalese Olympic squad for the London Games next month. He hit the back of the net to sealed the win in the 83rd minute. The Lone Star loss in Dakar was a costly one. Had they protected their early lead or drew, they would have had much cause for celebration and a major moral booster as they face Angola, the task before them now is more daunting than ever, “but all is not lost,” said a fan. “In football anything is possible and there are no underdogs now a day in African football, our chances to me still look bright,” he concluded.


1. Nathaniel Sherman, 18. Solomon Grimes, 17. George Gebro, 6-Patrick Gerhardt Nyemah, 5. Jimmy Dixon, 4. Theo Weeks, 8. Alseny Keita, 14. Captain Anthony Laffor,  sub 2. Marcus Macaulay 86min.  9-Dioh Williams, sub 12. Solomon Wesseh 80min. 13-Patrick Wleh , sub 10. Zah Kranger 41 min.
15-Francis Grandpa Doe, Coach: Kaetu Smith
23. Ousmane Mane, 3. Lamine Ludovic Sané, 4. Abdoulaye Ba, 5. Pape Guèye, 7. Moussa Konaté, sub 11. Dame N’Doye 45min 10. Sadio Mané,
15. captain Papiss Demba Cissé, 9. Idrissa Gana Guèye, 20. Ibrahima Baldé , sub 12. Ibrahima Toure 58min 21. Mohamed Diamé , sub 8. Cheikhou Kouyaté 79min, 22. Cheikh Mbengue.Coach: Joseph Koto

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