The Name Of ‘Bilitifying’ Lone Star
By Julu M. Johnson, Jr.
One reason why football stakeholders elected petroleum
dealer Musa Bility for the presidency of the Liberia
Football Association (LFA) was a result of his sweet tongue
promise to transform the national football team, Lone Star,
into a winning outfit. As we stand, it is business as usual
despite mouthwatering assurances that there was going to be
a better national football team of Liberia.
Nowadays Liberians hardly get the results they yearn for.
Classical examples are the immediate past goalless draw with
Angola and 3-1 loss to Senegal. Probably, LFA President
Bility is happy about such misery after allowing Technical
Director Henry Browne to handpick his buddy Kaetu Smith for
such difficult adventure. Worse of all, huge funds that
could have ably propelled the Lone Star were dashed in the
mud as 78 persons made the trip to Senegal.
The Bility leadership has been successful in putting into
place an indefinite agenda as far as the participation of
the national team in international competitions is
concerned. Today, Liberians will be told by the Bility
brigade that the Lone Star is competing to qualify.
Tomorrow, the story will change with news that the team is
in a rebuilding process. This state of confusion is among
many causes why the nation cannot get the results being
demanded. As long as the inconsistent modus operandi cannot
get a new twist, the country will continue to suffer the
wrath of ‘Bilitifying’ Lone Star, taking into account these
faulty results. No one is calling for the LFA boss to be
removed for this, because it is only left with stakeholders
to do so when their shoes start to pinch them.
Francis Grandpa Doe did his best with an opening goal, while
goalkeeper Nathaniel Sherman saved Papis Demba Cisse’s
penalty against Senegal’s Lions of Teranga in the 2014 World
Cup qualifiers. Yet, instead of holding on or adding more
goals, all the national team could achieve was to concede
three goals at the blast of the final whistle.
Now having one point after two games, the forthcoming
mission is to eliminate Namibia so as to reach the Nations
Cup group stage. The Southern African nation will be in
search of a 2-0 victory to progress to the next round. On
the way to the 2013 Nations Cup qualifying return leg
against Namibia, the Lone Star managed to grab a 1-0 win at
the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) in Monrovia. It remains
to be seen whether the Lone Star is in the right shape to
offer any resistance for the Brave Warriors.
The famous ‘Weah Eleven’ is no more but the memories of the
few good men live on. The generation of George Weah, James
Debbah, Joe Nagbe, Pewu Bestman, Jonathan Sogbie,
Christopher Wreh, Kelvin Sebwe and Zizi Roberts became the
talk of Africa, if not the world, by reaching two Nations
Cup finals and as well as causing heartbreak for the mighty
Pharaohs of Egypt and Super Eagles of Nigeria by almost
grabbing a berth at the 1990 and 2002 World Cup finals in
Italy and Korea and Japan respectively. From the initial
stage of the team’s performance, motivation was spearheaded
by the late President Samuel Kanyon Doe. His death and the
war that followed saw the Lone Star depending on the
commitment of Weah and co to move mountains. Goodness had it
that they were attached to some of Europe’s big clubs.
Another secret behind the success of the famous ‘Weah
Eleven’ was the commitment of the players. There were also
moments of Weah playing the yeoman role by serving as coach,
financier and inspirer.
At present, there is huge government support through a
national budget and good salaries for coaches. Unfortunately
for the current Lone Star, the presence of the necessary
impetus for wonderful results cannot turn sorrow to glory.
The sorrowful state of the Lone Star for the past few years
was among the barrage of criticisms Cllr. Izetta Wesley
suffered ahead of the 2010 elections of the LFA. Mr. Bility
capitalized on the poor showing of the Lone Star and got the
overwhelming mandate to turn things around. He promised,
upon his ascendancy, to ensure that the Lone Star would
qualify for major international competitions.
It is said that the beauty of a Christmas is determined by
the look of the eve. Hence, optimism were rife that the Lone
Star was heading somewhere when the Bility leadership placed
the responsibilities on a certain Bishop John Allen Klayee
to head a vetting process, leading to the appointment of
Bertalan Bicskei of Hungarian ahead of other potential
tacticians and applicants from around the world. In agreeing
terms with the coach, it cost a third world country like
Liberia US$15,000.00 for a monthly salary and other benefits
to formally hire Mr. Bicskei for the job, previously
occupied by another European, Antoine Tony Hey of Germany.
Bicskei left through illness and later died in his native
land. Italian man Roberto Landi took charge but the highly
promised transformation of the Lone Star was still far from
Amidst the countless misfortunes, it appears that the Lone
Star is not a team to place your hopes on under the Bility
regime. It will be foolhardy for one to blame the team’s
poor form on the lack of Liberians playing for the likes of
Real Madrid, Juventus, Arsenal, Marseille and Bayern Munich.
Reality has it that the Lone Star squad that defeated Ghana
Black Stars and Egypt’s Pharaohs only had George Weah
playing for AS Monaco, while James Debbah and Joe Nagbe were
at Union Douala in Cameroon. The rest of the players were
playing at home.
Gone are the days of the no money syndrome. With this past
problem now solved, it behooves Mr. Bility to do more for
the team the citizens cherish so much. Instead of shifting
blames and finding excuses, the national team should quickly
begin to turn into a wining team. This is no laughing
matter. The fans cannot wait any longer in the name of
‘Bilitfying’ Lone Star.