Q&A with star player, Anthony Laffour, who plays in South Africa. Laffour is ex-captain of the Liberian Lone Star soccer team.
Ex-captain Anthony Laffour of Liberia is certain the Lone Star can qualify ahead of the Nigerian Super Eagles. Laffour plays in South Africa, and recently granted this interview to Radio Station, Truth FM in Monrovia.
QUESTION: How are you looking forward to the game against the Super Eagles of Nigeria?
LAFFOUR: I’m really looking forward to the game with high hopes. It is one of the biggest games in recent times in the history of Liberian football and you don’t get the chance to face such an opposition all the time.
I’m not the only one looking forward to the game. The nation is highly anticipating the game with high hopes too. You know Nigeria is our big brother on the continent but it will be nice to make it to South Africa 2013 at their expense. It’s been long since we played at the African Cup of Nations and we believe we have a chance this time around.
QUESTION: You seem to be so upbeat on the chances of your team, where does the confidence comes from?
LAFFOUR: I think we deserved to win the first leg even though we had to come from behind to level scores. We take courage from that game and it will certainly boost our confidence for the return leg in Nigeria. These days, there are no minnows in African football as recent results have shown. Egypt was knocked out by Central African Republic and countries like Niger and Botswana made it to the last Afcon in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. So, we believe it is our time to play among the best teams in the continent. It would have been great if we had won it in Monrovia but all is not lost.
QUESTION: Which player from the Nigerian team do you think will pose the biggest threat to your team’s ambition of making it to South Africa?
LAFFOUR: I don’t think about them. Nigeria have good players and we respect them for that. In football, it important you respect your opponents for their qualities and what they do on the field of play. On the field of play, it is going to be 22 men slugging it out against each other. We are not thinking about their history or what they have achieved but qualifying ahead of them.
You must remember we beat Nigeria at home [in Monrovia] in 2001 and could have defeated them in the return fixture but for some mistakes. The Nigerian team that played against us in the first leg is one that we can beat and it would be great to do that for our people back home in Liberia.
QUESTION: How important is Sekou Jabateh-Oliseh to your team?
LAFFOUR: Sekou is a fantastic player and an important member of our team. He is a player who is always willing to work for the team and everybody in the team appreciates that. I think playing for a top team in the Russian league has really helped him develop his game. He scored one of the goals for us in Monrovia and I expect him to play a crucial role once again in the second leg.
QUESTION: Sekou plays in the same team with Nigeria winger Ahmed Musa and has some connections with Nigeria. Are you expecting any tips from him on how to tame the Super Eagles?
LAFFOUR: (Long laughter) Sekou is a Liberian and will always be. It is good to have a player who has a good knowledge of Nigerian football, but even at that, we have the responsibility of still studying our opponents very well. All we need to do in Nigeria is to focus on our game and forget the crowd. They will be all out to support their team but Guinea proved to us that Nigeria are no longer invincible at home.
QUESTION: You were left out of the Liberian team for disciplinary reasons. What really happened?
LAFFOUR: It is an issue that is not worth talking about. I have put that behind me and now look forward to a greater time with the Lone Star. I’m a Liberian and I am always willing to represent my fatherland. It was great watching our big heroes like George Weah at the African Cup of Nations in the past and I’m certain we can emulate them.
QUESTION: You just mentioned the glorious days of Liberian football. Why has it been so difficult to attain that height again?
LAFFOUR: You are right. We have experienced a lot of difficulties in Liberia and that has also affected our football. You know the war and everything. You are talking about losing young people who could have done the country’s football a lot of good. All the same, I think we are getting there now. We have a young team that has been together for a while and is ready to bring back the glory days of Liberian football.