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Francis Forkey Doe – Liberian soccer 'maestro'

By Ralph Geeplay

 

The President of the Liberian Football Association must recall Francis Forkey Doe to the Lone Star now, as Liberia prepares to play the Super Eagles of Nigeria. Doe is probably Liberia best kept secret since the dribbling legend George Weah left professional football for politics, following an impressive career in Africa and Europe. What have kept the lid on Doe’s career are perhaps disciplinary issues, but no one doubts his talents. He remains without hesitation Liberia’s finest scorers amongst today’s generation of Liberian players since Oppong Weah left the scene about a decade ago.

The 26-year old Doe began his football career with Cameroonian Premiere Division in 2002, featuring for Tonnerre Klara club de Yaoundé. It is also there that his countryman George Weah began his own football career before going on to the French Ligue 1 with AS Monaco.

It seems Liberian finest players always start their football careers in Cameroon before going on to greener pastures in Europe. James Debbah, for example is one of Liberia’s “celebrated players” who also laced his boots with Union Douala, so too was Joe Nagbe. Liberian striker Alex Nimley also played in Cameroon for  Coton de Garoua. He currently plays in the English league for Coventry City, on loan from Manchester City, having also been loaned to Middlesbrough in 2011. In Cameroon, Doe ‘s brilliance was revealed when he was voted best foreign player, and third overall becoming the second Liberian after Weah to win the coveted title.

To show he meant business and is serious about playing football, the budding Liberian star helped Tonnerre Yaoundé to the CAF Cup final, netting six goals in eight CAF Cup matches. Overall, the lethal right-footed Liberian striker ended the 2002 season with the club netting twelve goals in seventeen appearances. In Cameroon he played when the German coach Winfred Schaffer was the manager of the Indomitable Lions. Schaffer heaped praises on Doe as a gifted striker, but Doe and the club parted ways as the season ended. In 2003, the bubbling Liberian finisher played briefly in Ghana where he was discovered before signing with the Minnesota Thunder in 2004.

Forkey Doe used his contract clause and opted out of the Thunder when he began getting the attention of scouts from Europe, and South America, but instead, he signed a two-year deal with Greek club Atromitos. While in Greece he scored six times in twenty league matches.

When his playing days in Greece were done he packed his bags and headed out. Doe has always been in search of opportunity, and that was why in March 2007 the Liberian net buster went on trials with the Major League Soccer (MLS) Red Bulls of New York, eventually securing a contract with the club.

Playing for the former American team coach Bruce Arena exposed Doe to a high quality manager who had been to the world cup and had  success there. Arena gave Forkey Doe his second start for the Red Bulls, in 2007, and he impressed. During that game he scored his first MLS goal and recorded an assist in a 2-2 draw against the New England Revolution. Doe, subsequently in 8 league matches including four starting assignments with the Bulls, scored two goals and contributed one assist helping the club qualify for the MLS playoffs.

He would later be waived by the team on February 21, 2008.  As he left the Bulls, DC United Immediately snatched up the Liberian. Doe also proved his worth with United especially in a 2-1 crucial win over the New England Revolution on October 16, 2008, according to Liberiansoccer. com However by signing Avery John, Doe was out of favor with the club, but greener pastures awaited him elsewhere, and he took advantage of his chances.

Disappointed enormously, according to his friends and those who know him, Forkey Doe played well for DC, bearing in mind that there are huge Liberian football fan base on the east coast of the United States.  Doe  put behind his regrets and moved on. Not too long after that the Egyptian giant, Al Ahly came knocking on his doors. Doe stay there was also successful. He scored four goals in two seasons, but considering that Ahly is the best African club on the continent, you sense an insight of appreciation for what he did, says an analyst.

Egypt has done well in African football, but more so, Al Ahly was voted the African club of the century just as Real Madrid was nominated in Europe. Forkey Doe has play exceptionally well also for his country Liberia, scoring key goals, showing again and again why he is a first striker on the team.

Coach Kaetu Smith immediately upon being appointed, made Doe the center piece of his team before his recent expulsion. Although, under Anthony Hey, the Lone Star German coach, he saw less action, so it was too under the Hungarian tactician Bertalan Bicskei. Frustrated that the hired Liberian foreign coaches were overlooking him, Forkey Doe hinted that he was retiring from international football.

However, his first match for the senior national team of Liberia came against the Red Devils of Congo Brazzaville where the Lone Star, then under coach Kadalla Kromah, was pounded by their host 3-0, but Doe wasn’t done. He scored two goals during Liberia’s 2008 Afcon qualifying campaign, opening the scoring in a 3-2 victory over the Amavubis of Rwanda on October 8, 2006.

According to Liberian football analyst Wleh Bedell, Doe also scored Liberia’s lone goal during Lone Star’s 3-1 loss to Cameroon in March, 2007 “via a mouthwatering solo effort, when he passed the central defensive duo of Rigobert Song Bahanag and Eric Matoukou to score that goal.

The Lone Star of Liberia 1-0 win against visiting Cape Verde was also a 36-minute effort from Doe. Doe was also confident against Senegal recently despite the Lions parading of big names players against Liberia. He opened the scoreline for the Lone Star in Dakar in the 2012 world cup qualification for Brazil 2013 as early as the second minute. The team failed to defend Doe’s early goal.

Francis Forkey Doe is stubborn both on and off the field. But under a high-quality manager,  analysts say he will prosper. Doe is a very rowdy player also, but he works hard and plays well. He has 14 goals to date to his credit in the Malaysian league for Terengganu FA, despite playing under pressure and being the target of constant racial slurs from Asian fans. Liberia needs him against Nigeria. By now, Francis Forkey Doe should be playing in Europe for an excellent team, considering his immense talents. He is a first-rate player and one of Lone Star’s superb goal punchers.

The Lone Star must recall Francis Forkey Doe. He deserves to be on the team.

Ralph Geeplay can be reached at akklamm@gmail.com

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