By: Ralph Geeplay
The Liberian National team the Lone Stars of Liberia will lock horns with Tunisia on Saturday, September 5th in Monrovia for the 2017 African Cup of Nations qualifier, at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS). Enthusiasm in Monrovia is high, as James Debbah sees his first full international as coach of the West African nation, recently declared free by the World Health Organization [WHO] to host international matches in the wake of the deadly Ebola. Neighbors, Guinea and Sierra Leone were not so lucky, however.
Veteran Tunisian Coach Henryk Kasperczak, comes to Liberia on the heels of 8-1 mulling of Djibouti at home, a confidence booster surely for the Carthage Eagles as they meet the West Africans who will have in the dugout a new coach, the former PSG man, James Salinsa Debbah. The Liberian coach is confident his lads will pull a win in their back yard, calling to the team for the first time under his watch, NS Matric talisman Francis Forkey Doe, a stubborn forward, with Spain based “iron Man” William Jerbo and skipper Anthony Snoti Laffor from South Africa expected to lead Liberia’s attack at home.
The Polish tactician Kasperczak selected eight home based players from Etoile du Sahel as the team have performed well in the Caf and Tunisian Cups. The coach is already in Monrovia, expecting to snatch another win from the jaws of the stars. Tunisia leads the group log, which includes Togo, Liberia, and Djibouti. He will be counting on maestro, Youssef Msaki, a 24 year goal puncher and rising star. Msaki will want to prove his inclusion wasn’t a mistake, the Liberian defense should be busy, with Teah Dennis expected to play a major role.
What the Lone Stars must do to win? Find an early goal and protect it. This the Liberians have not been able to do in most of their matches. Under Coach Kaetu Smith that was Liberia’s foremost delinquency. The trend have since continue under Coach James Debbah. Had the Liberians protected the first blood they drew against the Sparrow Hawks in Lome Togo through a William Jerbo 43rd minute strike, Liberia would be playing at home with a lot of confidence against a Tunisia squad that is favorite to qualify. Under Debbah also, the Lone Stars lost to Guinea at home in the Chan qualifier having first raised the curtains in Monrovia. The Liberians will also need a strong midfield where they are the strongest, hold the ball and dominate possessions if they want to win a crucial encounter, and lastly, take advantage of their chances. Liberian forwards have been guilty of wasting their chances in front of goal mouth.
What Tunisia must do to win? The Carthage Eagles must approach the game like they are playing at home, put pressure on the home side and look for cracks and will certainly be looking to punish the West Africans and their newly appointed coach, when the opportunity arrives, hence, given that the Tunisians are well travelled expect them to play cautiously, but look to see them looking for goal to cement their stay at the top of the log. Qatari based key man Yassine Chikhaoui whose hat trick against Djibouti in the 9th, 22nd and 23rd minutes all but solidified his place as a starter in this encounter will be looking to repeat his recent fine form. Look also to see the Polish tactician employing few tricks up his sleeves cleverly against the stars and their coach if they go to sleep.
If the Lone Stars hold their defense and midfield, this is a game they will win.
Liberia; Key Player Teah Dennis
Tunisia: Key Player, Youssef Msaki
Prediction: 0-1, Liberia
Teah Dennis pic: www.liberianentertainment.com