Lone Star Far From Qualification
Lonestar Starting Lineup in Equatorial Guinea
By Wleh Bedell
The Senior national team of Liberia the Lone Star as you may
know by now have what should be a torrid pairing with the
Super Eagles of Nigeria in a two leg contest for a place in
the finals of the AFCON finals.
With the first leg slated for September 9, at home and the
return leg on October 14, the Lone Star no doubt has a
mountain to climb against a side that will be keen to make
amends just as the red, white and blue outfit after missing
out of the finals of the AFCON 2012.
And, in preparation for the mammoth 180 minutes the Lone
Star made use of the August 15, date approved by world
football governing body FIFA as far as holding friendly
international fixture is concerned.
Against 2012 Nations Cup co-hosts cum quarter finalists
Equatorial Guinea’s Nzalang Nacional, the Lone Star were
pinned by a solitary goal at the Estadio De Malabo after
gloves man Nathaniel Sherman made a horrendous mistake.
In the match, the Lone Star enjoyed possession and created
few scoring chances. The team could not however avoid defeat
as their game lacked the cutting edge, aggression in terms
of going forward and they lacked urgency, ruthlessness,
urge, power, bite and variation.
With Equatorial Guinea having a first leg away tie to Congo
DR, they opted to adapt the waiting game against the Lone
Star, something they will be doing against the Congolese.
Thus, the Lone Star further enjoyed possession, but could
not break through as the opponent tried to play on the
But, while both sides got a lot of positives from the game
with the Lone Star somewhat contend with possession which
though was mainly passive, and in fact created some chances,
the Central African side can be happy that they managed to
keep a clean sheet as they defended in numbers and played on
the break just like the way they will play in East Africa on
Despite such respectable friendly with another one coming
against the Flames of Malawi on September 4, in Monrovia,
the Lone Star remains very far from qualification as there
are a plethora of things or problems that must be looked at
critically and in fact exposed with recommendations put
forth as a way forward in solving them.
Disorganization Still at the Helm of the Game
While the Musa Bility led administration continues to strive
in developing the country’s football that is no doubt behind
many parts of the continent, the game remains disorganized
in almost every phase. Firstly, the national league which
should be a medium for clubs to fiercely compete in which
will in turn serve as recruitment ground for the various
national teams remains unattractive with much emphasis been
placed on the senior national team order than the league.
Clubs continue to feel the burden as the whole sponsorship
deal with Cellcom remains confusing or information on it
On the flip side, with all the support for the Lone Star and
clubs still striving, the nation’s pride and joy is as well
disorganized. Players on the team are made to purchase their
own attires (red tie, navy blue trousers and white shirts)
despite representing their country in the Equatorial Guinea
match and previous matches.
One therefore wonders why will a player going for national
duty be asked to purchase his own attires when in the world
over it is the responsibility of the LFA to do so. Also, the
players left the country without allowances to probably
leave with their families and a day after the match in
Malabo, they were each given a modicum amount of US$ 250.00,
something that should be termed somewhat discouraging
judging from the fact that they had risked in playing for
country, covered a very long distance for the match and
other factors. On the flip side, their opponents, Equatorial
Guinea, benefitted from a huge 3,000 Euros per player just
for appearing (nothing there had to do with tickets) with
winning bonuses not known.
Ineffective Technical Director, Tactically Maladroit
With the coming of Henry Brown from the United States who
landed at the LFA mainly based on sympathy, the lowly rated
tactician in turn made sure his close friend and fellow
perennial under achiever like him returned from the United
States to take over the Lone Star with Thomas Kojo who had
earlier led the team to beat Namibia in the AFCON qualifier
first leg left in the cold. So far, Brown has proven
ineffective with no program from the former Liberia Black
Star Coach in the form of long term been brought forth for
stakeholders to scrutinize. The only thing one can remember
from him is his regular trips first with the U-20 to Niger,
and then trips with the senior national team to Senegal,
Namibia and Equatorial Guinea.
He was seen involved with technical matters during the game
with Equatorial Guinea, is always on the training ground of
the national team, and one wonders whether he is technical
director of the LFA or the senior national team. At least
his job says he is technical director of the LFA, but with
him focusing only on the national team, the question is what
programs or recommendations have he put forth for grass root
and youth football development and even the organization of
Also, with the LFA engaging in the very awkward decision to
relegate more than fifty percent of clubs in the name of
FIFA directive, many are keen to know what sort of advise
has Brown given the LFA on such. Also, has he toured parts
of the country to identify younger talents?
The questions are so many. Like Brown like Kaytu, and if the
former is ineffective where he earns a rather undeserved
monthly salary of US$ 3,500.00, and Kaytu earning US$
2,500.00, the current Lone Star head Coach remains winless
as he has so far played four matches against Senegal,
Angola, Namibia and Equatorial Guinea, winning none, drawing
two and losing two. Under the former Oilers coach, the team
has managed to score just one goal and conceded four. His
training programs are mostly laughable as far as
contemporary football on the top level is concerned as he is
strangely seen been involved with the fundamental side of
the game where the players’ train like kids in focusing on
‘control and pass’.
Also, like his promoter Brown, he sees the press as enemies
and is an anti of them. With the press, he feels threatened,
frightened and seemingly confused.
Technically, Brown is the head coach and Smith is the deputy
with the other technical crew members normally playing
passive role. Smith is no doubt a stooge to Brown who makes
decisions mainly based on Brown’s input.
Another ugly issue is the boring nature of Kaytu and his
close friend cum promoter Henry Brown to hold meetings with
the players on the Lone Star after almost every two hours.
The pair often disrespect the players, take them like kids
where they don’t allow them freedom in terms of making
decisions, been by themselves, etc. They also run the team
based on anger as their decisions are mostly poor.
Also, under the reign of the two tactical jokesters it is
surprising to note that there is no special time for the
national team to train with players of various clubs been
compelled to train with the Lone Star almost daily as they
normally abandon their clubs training, but appear for league
matches which affects their performances as they often
suffer from injuries and fatigue.
Does Kaetu and his boss not know that it is the clubs that
own the players and not the national team? Do they also not
know that just as oversea based players are send for two to
three days to game, local players must also be send for or
be asked by their clubs to release them at such period or at
least a week earlier? Besides, which part of the world does
Katu know or have seen a national team train daily? To prove
the unprofessional nature of the coach, player Martin Kendu
was dropped from the trip to Equatorial Guinea simply
because his club, LISCR, complained that he was used too
much on the Lone Star training ground and the training with
the national team and abandoned his team’s practice.
Also, the questionable and somewhat unconvincing reason the
trio of Francis Doe, Dioh Williams and Anthony Laffor were
thrown out of the team in the name of expulsion as it was
reported “they broke camp”.
Another weak side of Kaytu was shown as he was quoted in the media “I
wanted to suspend the three players for the game against
Namibia, but the (LFA) said they were expelled”. What one
can deduce from such statement is that Kaytu is greatly
controlled by the LFA and Brown and that he does not really
have his own decision but the LFA, and judging from the
manner in which he took the job, he will always have to
succumb cause thinking on going the contrary by been
independent in decision making, he will lose his biggest
coaching job ever.
Also, remember the dropping of Gebro on grounds that the player was not
willing to play for his club Invincible Eleven (IE) due to
what they termed ‘fake injury’ and was against the Lone Star
so-called code of conduct that is yet to be seen, but soon
went to the Lone Star training ground the next day, the
weak, under pressure and indecisive coach would then
somersault for Gebro to return which further showed Kaetu’s
lack of firmness, consistency and organization. At one point
it is ‘A’ decision at the other point it is ‘B’ decision.
It was quite unbelievable that the Lone Star handler took a
team to Malabo without a holding midfielder and opted to
play with an all attacking style players, thus abandoning or
ignoring the relevance of a holding midfielder. With Martin
Kendu foolishly dropped by the lowly rated Kaytu Smith, the
only holding player on the team during the trainings to the
trip was Indian club Wahindoh FC player Othello Banei, but
the lad was left back for no apparent reason. Everyone knows
the position of a holding midfielder is so important that
even the likes of Spain and Barcelona, arguably the most
attacking country and club in world football stress on such
position, but a tactically blind Kaetu and his man Brown
have a complete opposite and dreadful view.
Then, with the Lone Star not been prolific in terms of
bursting the game at home and scoring many goals to at least
have some hope of qualification, (the Lone Star has never
beaten an opponent in Monrovia in a competitive match by a
two goal margin or more since the exit of the George Weah
led generation for a decade now and taking into account the
team’s poor traveler status where it has lost 18 matches
away and drawn just one without a single win since the exit
of the George Weah led generation, the Lone Star is
certainly very far from qualifying to its third nations cup
finals, the first for this current generation.
Whatever the case is the players must not take the huge
portion of the problem but first the LFA who hired Henry
Brown, changed Kojo when the team had won a competitive
match and then brought on Kaetu Smith, thus ignoring
The lads will play their part, but the Musa Bility led
administration and their two hirers from the land of Obama,
Henry Brown and Kaetu Smith, must be greatly blamed for the
team’s woes in the coming weeks. It has over and over been
proven in many countries that have qualified for the African
Nations Cup and World Cup finals that a country does not
have to have its players playing I the Spain, England,
England, France, etc. to qualify, but in any country as what
one plays is what matters most.
The Way Forward
As always, there are recommendations after several
constructive criticism and these are just some of the things
that must be put in place as a way forward.
That the LFA after both legs with Nigeria start thinking of
parting company with Henry Brown who is yet to put forth a
constructive program to propel the game here and Kaytu Smith
who from all indication lacks the tactical know-how and
nuance in taking the Lone Star to another level.
That the current corps of coaches working with Kaetu on the
Lone Star be maintained and at least two more coaches from
the local scene be added to make a five-man care taker team
for the Lone Star Star with a recruitment exercise be
brought to the fore on the need to hire an experienced and
efficient technical director of the LFA and not the Lone
Star who would put forth programs for the country’s football
development. Also, there is a need for the LFA to be serious
in hiring coaches of the various national teams with its
technical committee be given all the power and backing
without interference and be allowed to select coaches for
the various national teams.
Also, emphasis be placed on youth football development with
U-15 and U-17 teams organized in the various sub-committees
and sub-associations with coaches on the local scene be send
abroad on a regular basis to be trained via top rated
That the decision to relegate more than fifty percent of
clubs be expunged and that the Lone Star be more organized
with players not having to buy their own attires, be given
attractive allowances even before they leave the country for
a match and that fees or money paid as appearance fee to the
team be announced after a friendly.
(The appearance fee for the recent friendly with Equatorial Guinea is
still unknown). And that all the pillars of the game are
uplifted greatly with sponsorship and capacity building