Judging by the euphoria which recently greeted Liberia 3-1 win against Guinea Bissau, you would think the country must have just won the African cup of nations, or that it went to the world cup, played in the finals and did lost to a worthy opponent, this wasn’t even the Nigerian Super Eagles, or the Lions of Cameroon or the Black Stars of Ghana, this was my people after all a win against a team that calls itself the African Wild Dogs, one of the continent lowly seated teams on the fifa billboard, and this was after all what sent ripples of celebration across the country especially Monrovia. The near silliness with which the celebration took on a fiesta, with some Monrovia newspapers running editorials to declare a new dawn not just for football but sports in general, says Liberia is a country in search of answers.
Yes it was a convincing win over Guinea Bissau in the 2018 World Cup qualifier, but they are ranked way below Liberia about 52 places on the fifa index. And then the question becomes, why are we so contended, this as if to say Liberia and the nation’s reachable objectives, to do great things to be the best it can be amongst nations are such higher goals that are un-accomplishable, at least it seems to me!
But when a country has nothing to celebrate, and has seen too much troubles the last few years with no tangible anything to celebrate in its recent past, it becomes explicable that a destitute public sees reasons to celebrate the tinniest of victory however, and especially after a deadly date with a virus and a corrupt state and inefficient state bureaucracy that has all but relegated the very interest of its citizens to the dumps as those who hold state power loot the country coffers while the citizens pick up the crumps.
Take these: Nine years into the Sirleaf presidency, Liberia is still flying its citizens out of the country for medical care, with Ghana a favored destination when govt officials are cashing 800thousand dollars checks in a single day and a once profitable state own oil company goes bankrupt in an twinkle of an eye. The nation’s ROADS are so in disrepair— the 1940s “tell lie!”
With President Sirleaf in power for almost a decade. What happened to the CAMPAIGN PLEDGE that under the Unity Party Led government, if she won a second term all the 15 counties would be connected by paved roads? Remember that one? Official corruption has run amok and the sheer impunity with which teenage rapes, bribes, pervasive crimes across the country and the failure of the courts and inaction of the national legislature to bring any semblance of state governance to a destitute population says much for the celebration in the 3-1 win against a Bissau team that stood no chance in the first place. And there was even a parade “from the team’s camp at the Executive Lounge on the Roberts International Airport (RIA) highway,” to welcome the team home, as Sirleaf was in wait sharing in the spoils.
Joining the chorus and to claim success too, the sports ministry joined the bandwagon and said it was presenting a strategic football plan with Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe in the full front. Liberians rarely hear about boxing, track and field, tennis, and the other SPORTS for which the ministry is named, check that!
“The success of the national team [we have won only two games in as much as 14 years] shows that things can happen once you have committed people undertaking a task,” said a very unpopular president, also riding the wave of her indigent peoples glee. Musa Bility who has been crying out for govt budgetary support to the national team and his led LFA was also now too in the spotlight and head of the line leading the chorus to the Executive Mansion to get the president’s assurance that government would ensure the unimpeded input of the team not just in the qualifying rounds of the African Nations and World Cups, but other major competitions. “This day belongs to you. It belongs to you,” said Sirleaf “because you have earned it. You have made you and your country proud,” she told cheering members and technical staff of the national team.
No doubt Coach James Debbah and his back room staff have an early good start to the afcons and world cup qualifying campaigns, and the look on his face these days is such that it is a great relief, having endure stern criticisms for being appointed to a lofty coaching position that needed an experienced coach, he has not done badly this early, but who is to say these wins will determine how successful he will be in the coming games. His early missteps have been hotly highlighted and contested by a restless press and social media sites, it seems he has listened keenly having previously invited players such as George Weah Jr, and a hosts of other players that were unattached or not playing regularly on their teams as he ignored experience players that have now found their way back to the team. Now, there is talk that the elephants will fall next—probably Africa’s best team during the last world cup, and the current continental champs, good optimism!
Liberians needed to celebrate perhaps anyways for good reasons, they have been through too much toil, have had little to celebrate these past years, are worn in their hopes that have been raised and dashed by its leaders—why not celebrate a 3-1 victory over a team ranked 147— 52 places below Liberia, and this, not to take anything away from Tunisia that fell at home in a 0-1 win. This euphoria says the Country is in need of answers— too many unsolved national problems, reasons for the tenuous celebrations in this win—our people deserve to be happy!
Min. Lenn Eugene Nagbe pic