James Debbah Lone Stars Selection draws fire

Hawa Wesseh
New Liberian coach James Salinsa Debbah has come under fire from football journalists in the country, for naming players that are not playing regularly in their respective teams abroad, to the national team, the Lone Stars.

And the criticisms become more relevant when you considered he has no coaching experience, and this will be his first major international match against a really good Togolese side that is being coached by a Belgian tactician, Tom Saintfiet who has worked in Africa for almost a decade.

Saintfiet has bounced around Africa a lot although some say he considered a decent coach, Saintfiet has not stay long with a national team and will want to prove he deserve the Togolese position. Debbah will therefore have his hands full and a good struggle with Saintfiet, who will want to best him in every department.

Togo has been a force in Western Africa football in recent years and it has decent players. The Belgian have worked with Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Namibia etc.

James Salinsa Debbah reports say is ignoring Liberian players who have been playing regularly in Asia and Europe. One of such is Francis Forkey Doe who was left out, although he scored 33 goals the past two seasons, hence scoring 8 goals in 5 appearances this year alone for his Asian club. Grandpa Doe has been fantastic for his NS Metrix in the Malaysian Premier League, and has been one of the league top scorers, per match played this season in the Malaysian League. But he was sadly over looked.

Also absent from Coach James Debbah’s list is goal puncher Patrick Wleh, who has scored 5 goals for the Lone Stars in 11 appearances. 5 goals might seem paltry, but the Lone Stars has been a drought house these past years, and Wleh has been one of the few shining examples that have torched the nets. Wleh poured in at club level 40 goals since 2012, currently on suspension since this year beginning; he nonetheless deserved a call because of his past heroics for nation.

“Former FIFA World Best, son George Weah Jr. is part of the delegation but it was shocking when LibFootball News discovered that the ineffective and irregular player is not playing [frequently for team, even] at the amateur French club Aubervillie FCM… all we want to see is that the player gets chances on merit not through [the] back door” the LibFootball News said, in reaction the recently released Lone Stars’ list.

Reports also say Coach James Salinsa Debbah named “24-year old Liberian-American defensive midfielder Abel Gebor. Abel is currently uncommitted after he left Finnish club FC Honka in late December.” The club have since been relegated due to “financial” reasons.

Also left out was Solomon Grimes who plays in the Cypriot League and also a constant feature for Liberia the past five years.

Seems to be Mr. Debbah, is going for youth and new names as oppose to establish candidates which is a common practice for coaches these days, but he has no track record of working with these players who have anchored the team these past few years, according to observers.
Overlooked was Dioh Williams too from the Swedish club Allsvenskan Gefle IF. A Liberian sports journalist say, while Dioh Williams and Francis Doe have been hard to managed, often breaking camps, they nonetheless have been perhaps two of Liberia’s best players.

Notable exception goes to Amadaiya Rennie of Hammarby. Although he has been idle lately, he deserved a call back says a fan because, he always put up stellar performances “for the Lone Stars whenever he wears the national colors.”

The Liberian Football Association is also concerned that Coach Debbah wants to travel Europe and Asia to see Liberian players in action, when it is easy today to see video clippings and also monitored players performances via available stats and getting in direct line to club coaches. Coaches need to travel no doubt to see players in action, but Liberia does not have the budget to facilitate such luxury an FA source said. He was not authorized to speak to the issue.

Said LFA President Bility, “so for any coach…the LFA is not in the business of flying coaches around the world to go and look for players. We have a system and that system will produce to us the players we need. Secondly, [flying around the world to spot players], Bility said, “has no basis, [and] If any coach wants a player, there is a means now available to the entire world where you can see the particular player.”

He added “No player will benefit from LFA ticket, travel and perdiem[s], who is not active and playing [regularly] in a respectable league in the world, Frontpageafrica.com reported this week.

“That person or those persons will play for Liberia, not while I am LFA president.”
There are also troubling reports that some of the players that James Salinsa Debbah named he never consulted or spoke to before placing their names forward to the LFA.
One of which is Captain Anthony Laffor, of Sundowns South Africa. Laffor have said he was retiring from the Lone Stars and international football, and have not retracted his statement, yet he was named.
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There also are reports that Inaki Williams of Atletico Bilbao who is being chased by Ghana because of his Liberian and Ghanaian heritage [Liberian mother, Ghanaian father], might not be available, because James Debbah is yet to speak to him. He is a Spanish citizen, like Alex Nimley who also is British. Up to press time it wasn’t confirmed if both [Williams and Nimley] have had their documents strengthened out in order to play for Liberia.

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