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Liberian football selection draws fire

By. Hawa Wesseh                   Liberian Lone Star Soccer Team



Liberian football coach James Salinsa Debbah has come under fire from football
journalists in the country, for naming players that are not playing  regularly in their respective teams abroad, to the the Lone  Stars.

The criticism became relevant when you considered he has no coaching experience, and this will be his first major international match against a really good Togolese team that is being coached by a Belgium tactician, Tom Saintfiet who has worked in Africa for almost a decade.

Saintfiet has bounce around Africa a lot. While considered a decent coach, he has not stay long with a national team, and will want to prove he deserve the Togolese
position. Debbah will therefore have a struggle with Saintfiet. Togo has been a force in Western Africa football in recent years and it has decent players. The Belgian have worked with Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Namibia

James Salinsa Debbah, reports say, is ignoring Liberian players who have been
playing regularly in Asia and Europe. One of such is Francis Forkey Doe who was left out although he scored 33 goals in two seasons, hence, scoring 8  goals in 5 appearances this year alone for his Asian club. Grandpa Doe has  been fantastic for his NS Metrix in the Malaysian Premier League, and has  been one of the league’s top scorers, per match played this season in the  Malaysian League. But he was sadly over looked.

Also absent from Coach James Debbah’s list is goal puncher Patrick Wleh, who has scored 5 goals for the Lone Stars in 11 appearances. 5 goals might seem paltry, but the Lone Stars has been in a drought these past years, and Wleh has been one of the few shining examples that have torched the nets. Wleh poured in at club level 40 goals since 2012, currently on  suspension since this year beginning; he nonetheless deserved a call because of his past heroics for the nation.

“Former FIFA World Best, son George Weah Jr. is part of the delegation but  it was shocking when LibFootball News discovered that the ineffective and  irregular player is not playing [frequently for team, even] at the amateur  French club Aubervillie FCM… all we want to see is that the player gets  chances on merit not through [the] backdoor” the LibFootball News said in  reaction to the recently released Lone Stars’ list.

Reports also say Coach James Salinsa Debbah named “24-year old  Liberian-American defensive midfielder Abel Gebor. Abel is currently uncommitted after he left Finnish club FC Honka in late December.” The club have since been relegated due to “financial” reasons.

Also left out was Solomon Grimes who plays in the Cypriot League, and also a
constant feature for Liberia the past five years.

It seems Mr. Debbah is going for youth and new names as oppose to  established candidates, which is a common practice for coaches these days; but  he has no track record of working with these players who have anchored the team these past few years.

Overlooked was Dioh Williams too from the Swedish club Allsvenskan Gefle IF. A  Liberian sports journalist say, while Dioh Williams and Francis Doe have been hard to managed, often breaking camps, they nonetheless have been perhaps two of Liberia’s best players.

Amadaiya Rennie of Hammarby was called, and although he has been idle lately, he deserved a call back, says a fan because he always puts up stellar performances “for the Lone Stars whenever he wears the national colors.”

The Liberian Football Association is also concerned that Coach Debbah wants
to travel to Europe and Asia to see Liberian players in action, when it is easy today to see video clippings. Coaches need to travel no doubt to see players in action, but Liberia does not have the budget to facilitate such luxury an FA source said. He was not authorized to speak to the issue Said LFA President Bility, “so for any coach…the LFA is not in the business of flying coaches around the world to go and look for players.

We have a system and that system will produce to us the players we need. Secondly, [flying around the world to spot players], Bility said, “has no basis, [and] If any coach wants a player, there is a means now available to the  entire world where you can see the particular player.” he added. “No player  will benefit from LFA ticket, travel and perdiem[s], who is not active and  playing [regularly] in a respectable league in the world, reported this week. “That person or those persons will play for Liberia, not while I am LFA  president.”

There are also troubling reports that some of the players that James  Salinsa Debbah named he never consulted or spoke to before placing their  names forward to the LFA.

One of which is Captain Anthony Laffor of Sundowns South Africa. Laffor have said he was retiring from the Lone Stars and international football, and have not retracted his statement, yet he was named.

There also are reports that Inaki Williams of Atletico Bilbao who is being chased by Ghana because of his Liberian and Ghanaian heritage [Liberian mother, Ghanaian father], might not be available, because James Debbah have yet to speak to him. He is a Spanish citizen, like Alex Nimley who also is British. Up to press time it wasn’t confirmed if both [Williams and Nimley] have had their documents strengthened out in order to play for Liberia.


Hawa Wesseh is a freelance sports writer. She is based in Monrovia, Liberia.


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