Super Eagles of Nigeria crushed Liberian Lone Star in 2nd leg qualifier of the 2013 Nations Cup finals
After a pulsating 2-2 draw in the first leg on September 8, at the SKD stadium, the Lone Star needed a win, or at least a 3-3 draw in the second leg to qualify for the South African party. But October 13 will go down as another date to remember from a Liberian football perspective, as a disjointed Lone Star, under tactically maladroit coach Joseph Kaetu Smith were hammered, walloped and humiliated by a disgraceful 6-1 margin at the UJ Eseune stadium in Calabar, Nigeria.
The match, monitored on television, saw the hosts opening the flood gate as early as the 2nd minute through Scottish club Celtic rearguard, Efe Ambrose, after he rose the highest to head home a Victor Moses sublime cross.
Sekou Jabateh Oliseh’s competitor at Russian outfit CSKA Moscow, Ahmed Musa, got the cushion after he easily tapped in an easy pass from Russian club Spartak Moscow attacking ace Emmanuel Eminike to make it 2-0 as both teams went to the locker room.
Chelsea marauding winger, Victor Moses added gloss to the scoreline when he made it 3-0 in the 47th minute and his influential playmate for club and country John Mikel Obi made it 4-0 from the spot after 52 minutes. The two-time African champions were still not satiable as their coach Stephen Keshi, who knows all what it takes to not just play at the nations cup, but to win it as well after he served as winning captain for the Super Eagles in winning their second nations cup in 1994, continued to urge his men to attack more, and true to his screaming.
The Super Eagles made it 5-0 in the 72nd minute through Spanish club Villareal finisher Ukwechukwu Uche, before substitute Patrick Ronaldinho Wleh from the lower ranks of the Malaysian league got the consolation for the Lone Star.
But, Victor Moses ensured he closed the scoring in the 87th minute to see the Super Eagles cruise to their 17th nations cup and make amends for their failure to qualify for the last nations cup where they were eliminated by Guinea. The Lone Star were earlier reduced to 10 men after Captain George Gebro was send off for a second bookable offense.
The defeat was the Lone Star’s joint second defeat as they were on March 26, 2005, against the Teranga Lions of Senegal, as they were buried with a similar scoreline of 6-1 in a joint 2006 African and World Cup qualifier at the Leopald Sedar Senghor Stadium in Dakar.
But the build up to the game involved a lot of talking points as far as the organization of the Lone Star is concerned. It was quite disappointing to note that the Lone Star arrived by midnight in Calabar and had little or no time to rest, and in fact rarely train.
It was quite disheartening to note that despite the huge support from the likes of the team sponsor, GSM company, Cellcom, the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company, National Oil Company, National Port Authority, Central Bank of Liberia and other institutions that raised more than US$250,00.00 for the Lone Star through the mobilization committee, things were not put in place adequately as the entire team waited for days in Ghana for the contingent from Liberia to move to Nigeria, something that took two days, due to the authorities inability to get a plane in time for the trip.
Thus, it showed the Liberia Football Association (LFA) and its president Musa Bility, with his much-heralded commercialization which he used as campaign slogan to transcend to the highest football seat is in exigent as the game and even the national team continued to suffer as a result of poor administration.
However, from a tactical standpoint, Coach Keatu Smith showed no respect to the Nigerians as he opted for a 4-4-2 formation where he threw men forward as if he had the better of the two sides.
With the trio of Sekou Jabateh Oliseh, Tonia Tisdell and Isaac Zola Pupo lacking the industry or work ethics to track back when the team was on the back foot, the team looked defensively vulnerable, and were like short of three men with the back four of Solomon Grimes, local lads Solomon Wesseh, Teah Dennis, Jr. and the 30-year old George Gebro only protected by holding midfielder Alseny Keita and the diminutive Zah Rahan Krangar.
An alternative, and in fact more reliable formation should have being a 4-2-3-1; where there was going to be a double pivot, as there would have being two holding players in front of the back four which would have provided coverage or protection.
Thus, a player like Tonia Tisdell, who though skillful, should have being sacrificed for a holding player in Theo Lewis Weeks, who would have combined with Keita to provide coverage for the full backs of Gebro and Grimes as the Nigerians were deadly in the wide areas where they had the nimble footed duo of Victor Moses and Ahmed Musa who got half of the Nigerians goals between them.
With the two holding players, the wings would have being squeezed as Jabateh and Pupo were always going to be lacking in reverting to defense. Also, the team should have adapted the waiting game, play on a cautious note, absorb the pressure and catch the opponents on the break as the Nigerians were always going to take the game to the Lone Star by attacking, which would have left holes of spaces behind them that the Lone Star might have exploited.
Through this, the scoreline would have being more respectable even if the team had lost, but they would have frustrated the hosts with the containment and anything might have happened. The focus now will be turned to the World Cup 2014 qualifiers, where the Lone Star have an away fixture to the Cranes of Uganda early 2013 as they lie at the bottom of their group that is led by Senegal and followed by Angola.