Vintage Chelsea Drubbed Disjointed LISCR
By Wleh Bedell
A tactically disciplined Berekum Chelsea drubbed a desperate
but somewhat disjointed LISCR in a first round first leg
encounter on Sunday, February 19, at the Antoinette Tubman
Both sides making their debut appearance in Africa’s blue
ribbon competition entered the fray with much promise as
they began to pick the pocket of each other defense. The
Ghanaians under Dutch Coach Hans Van Der Plyum started on a
somewhat high –defensive line cum cautious note with their
gangling front man Mohammed Musa making runs in the final
third. But, it was LISCR who could have opened the account
after the Benin youth international Garel Sosa headed in a
free manner over the bar a set piece from the right channel.
Sosa stood in the midst of the white side defense to head
the ball over the bar from less than five meters in the box
to send the stadium in frenzy after 16 minutes.
As the first half progressed the Ghanaians started to get
into the game with their short crisp passing as they missed
two glaring chances. Sosa would later come out for the
dreadlocked Joshua Morris as Moroccan referee Hechin put the
first half to bed.
In the second half, Chelsea became more adventurous as they
brought on a very menacing Prince Papa Arko for the big man
Mohammed Musa as they gradually began to dictate the rhythm
of the contest. But, against the run of play, Abel Horton
nearly put LISCR in the lead as his effort landed on the
wood work as the opponents’ defense looked unperturbed. The
visitors somewhat incessant onslaught however paid off in
the 58th minute, courtesy of erratic goalkeeping from a
virtually over weight Sunday Seah who failed to save an easy
effort from Eric Hang Many who chanced his luck to put
Chelsea noses in front.
Upon conceding the cheeky goal, LISCR players looked
dejected as they felt let down by their leader and Captain
Sunday Seah whose timing and distribution on the day looked
poor. The LISCR back four of Daniel Woto, Trokon Zeon, Alvin
Dixon and Emmanuel Tarpeh did plenty of stoppage with the
latter two showing much concentration to contain the
opponents attacking machinery.
Adolphus Blamo and his holding midfield partner Gideon
Williams played on top each other as the wide men Abel
Horton and Joshua Morris made sporadic runs with the former
looking more promising. But, the front two of Vitalise Sieh
and Mohammed Varney looked switched off as they lacked
supply with Sieh only showing promise by coming deep from
the hole in attack to give a plethora of flick-on.
But, while LISCR were striving to get back on equal pecking
the Ghanaian champions got the tally increaser through
substitute Prince Papa Darko after 70 minutes to dash
LISCR’s hope. The goal actually came after Adolphus Blamo
who had had an impressive game in terms of his neat build up
play and tackling abandoned his position to go deep infield
on the right side of midfield. He was then disposed with
Chelsea switching from defense to attack to get the goal.
They then began to draw rings round the hosts with their
fluid passing style which made LISCR ordinary. The Ghanaian
side at times pulled together ten passes to the delight of
the home crowd who in the end felt their side was taught a
dangerous lesson. Chelsea tightened the spaces and when they
conceded possession they put their opponents under immediate
Changes in personnel then began to take place with a very
lively James Richardson coming on for Abel Horton while a
rather quiet Emmet Wleh was introduced for Vitalise Sieh,
but the score line remained the same as the visitors cruised
With this LISCR has a mountain to climb in the second leg on
March 4, in Accra, as they will need an emphatic 3-0 win to
go through in meeting Raja Casablanca of Morocco who took a
bye for the second round.
Tactically, LISCR had a series of problems in the match.
They gave the ball away cheaply and did not threaten the
opponents from open play except from set pieces where they
missed two chances from Sosa and Horton. They also lacked
penetration and patience as far as possession or keeping the
ball is concerned and also lacked the element of surprise.
Ghana’s third choice goalkeeper at the recent African
Nations Cup, Ernest Sowah who stood in goal for the visitors
was on a virtual holiday as he was untested. But, LISCR’s
major undoing in the tie was that they lacked fitness. They
switched off or ran out of steam as the match progressed
especially during the second stanza. Play down the wings was
also neglected as their full back rarely ventured forward.
And, while Sunday Seah was a flop their defeat cannot all be
attributed to his poor form as the team on the day did not
But, there are some promises as far as the defeat is
concerned. It shows that the defensive duo of Tarpeh and
Dixon are a solid partnership and are stars of the future.
Blamo and Williams showed some promise except that Blamo was
a bit over enthusiastic, Horton showed purpose and is never
afraid of rampaging upfront while Richardson proved that he
is a the team’s new boy-wonder. His pace, desire and
movement was a handful except that he had low quality supply
of passes. As a team they showed plenty of individual
brilliance and some promising display but their lack of
fitness had a toll on them and cost them dearly.
The team however had some problems in coming to the match.
Firstly, they won the championship based on just one phase
which means they were not really tested and such competition
did not get the best out of the teams least one speaks of
the champions, Secondly, they heavily invested in the
transfer market, buying more than ten players and they did
not gel as a unit. In fact, some of the players bought were
termed surplus to requirement as they were not used. The
likes of Pokar Roberts and George Dargbah and Yamie Yancy
were not given the chance which questions such transfers.
Also, they looked a bit game rusty as there were just three
games played in the new season before Chelsea came to town
while the Ghanaian league is deep in the season and the
players there are fully fit, tested and organized.
To make matter worse, the team’s Coach Frank Jericho Nagbe
threw in the tower some nine days to the contest making Vava
George to serve as care taker Coach. Sources say one major
reason leading to Jericho’s resignation was that the team
manager Swen Bedell refused to adhere to his orders that he
wanted only 18 players to move to camp in Kakata for the
melee against Chelsea. The TM instead called on all
registered players to move to camp which infuriated Jericho.
Vava thus had little time to instill his philosophy into the
team and there was some psychological problem as the
disaster came to the fore.
Kudos must however go to the authorities of LISCR for
venturing into the very expensive issue of partaking into
the champions’ league. Credit must go to the president
Mustapah Raji and co for being brave to get into the
competition which involves very huge financial burden.
Such match raised the profile of the club and Liberian
football in general and while such venture is very enormous
in terms of finance, our clubs must be encouraged to partake
as they will learn a whole lot.
Finally, the defeat to LISCR shows the quality of our league
is low and there is a need for more improvement. The bar
needs to be raised. Technicians from other parts of Africa
and perhaps the world must be brought on board. The clubs
need proper organization and in all there is a need for
money to be put in the league to motivate clubs and make the
football here more competitive.