By Wleh Bedell
A jam packed Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) saw a poor first half and promising second half Lone Stars of Liberia for the 11th time fall prey to a first half organized, but second half slumber Ivory Coast in the first leg match of the 2018 World Cup qualifier.
A gift from Kohn Dirkir Glay two minutes to the interval enabled Danish based Gohi to score as the Elephants already have one foot in the group stage of the World Cup qualifiers except the Lone Star can come up with a miracle next Tuesday to beat the Ivory Coast in Abidjan. But, how did the players on the Lone Stars fare is what is being sailed through.
Tommy Songo- The young custodian of local club LISCR was decisive in key moments. Quick off his line, denied Doumbia with his left leg, looked agile and calm between the sticks.
Solomon Grimes- Another promising performance from the 28 year old Nea Salimas of Cyprus full back. Made several blocks, won a lot of balls from the likes of Gervinho, was hardly beaten, played with much belief and desire, except that his crosses let him down on quite a number of occasion.
Adolphus Marshall-The Elephants were mostly a right sided team, meaning they launched most of their attack from their right side which was the Lone Stars left side. Thus, the Indonesian based Marshall was under immense pressure, but showed calmness and composure in many instances. He showed good control of the ball also, except that he went forward intermittently as a result of severe caution.
Kohn Dirkir Glay- With the exception of the gift he presented for the goal, the 23 year old Gor Mahia man had a solid game and won more aerial battles with Doumbia.He also attempted more headed clearances and offense attacking corners as the Lone Stars hustled in the heat. However, he needed to be more patient in ensuring his side pull some passes in organizing from the back order than launching the ball upfront which was difficult for the strikers to control.
Teah Dennis, Jr. The Al-Ali of Jordan rearguard once more had a very great game. Bundled Gervinho repeatedly. Battled with Doumbia and commanded the back line to much effect. His good reading of the game coupled with his precision timing helped his side a lot despite the narrow loss
Patrick Gerhardt- A passenger in the heat. Also a bit exposed as the Lone Stars lacked compactness in the first period, his passes were wayward, failed to win the needed tackles and the 30 year old Sarawak of Malaysia defender was rightly substituted at half time.
Sam Johnson-The striker for club and destroyer for country was effective in most part of the game, except that the wide role given him was a bit of a surprise. Instead, the 21 year old should have being deployed in the middle to help make the team more compact in pulling the strings. His substitution was also surprising.
Zah Krangar- Given the playmaker role, the diminutive 30 year old tried to make things happen. He used his skills to much effect, weaving through at times, but such was not done with regularity. He also created few anxious moments in the dying amber, but the aggressive opponents did not allow him much time. In all, he showed some invention and took risk.
Anthony Laffor- The best player on the park on both sides. He tracked back quickly. Was never afraid of dribbling an opponent and Serge Aurrier will have to write his name in his diary back in Abidjan or in Paris as the 30 year old Sundowns winger dribbled the PSG man at will, but his undoing was that he failed to take the initiative in going in to strike for goal.
Patrick Wleh-A big flop on the day. The towering striker put up an embarrassing performance as his runs were not threatening, lacked aggression and was a surplus to requirement till he got injured after 17 minutes and had to be substituted.
William Jebor-The 24 year old should have scored in the early stages but his effort from close range was wasted. He had several half chances, but was well marshaled by the back line of the Elephants.H e also tried few spectacular over head kicks, but his first touch and movement in terms of getting onto a cross first mostly let him down.
Dioh Williams-Coming on for a dreadful Wleh, the 31 year old used his skills and movement to somewhat greater effect as he moved round the box, but was at times a bit too slow and was not involved in goal mouth action as his back was often turned from goal.
Alseny Keita- The 32 year old stabilized the midfield when he went on for an ineffective Gerhardt. Simple passing, good positioning and awareness and played with much relaxation, composure and organization.
Tonia Tisdell-Playing for just seven minutes for club so far this season, the overweight crafty left footer tried to inject some magic, but his dribbling were not just working as the turf to some extent impeded him like many others. He brought life to the game also as he caused corners and was never shy of going to the opponents. His best moment was when he found space away from Artur Boka to fire a shot that went sailing by the side netting.