Malabo Trip Frustrating
By Wleh Bedell
From 8:00 AM local time to 11:00 pm, the Lone Star of
Liberia trip to Malabo, the Capital of Equatorial Guinea can
be termed as boring, frustrating, demoralizing and
irritating. The red, white and blue outfit has come this far
to the Central African oil rich country to engage the
Nzalang (Thunder) Lions on Wednesday, August 15, which is a
FIFA approved friendly date.
But, while the staging of said match can be termed as a
positive step as far as preparations for both teams are
concerned with Liberia facing Nigeria at home on September
9, and Equatorial Guinea sorting things out with Congo DR
the same day away in the final round, first leg match of the
AFCON 2013 finals, the entire arrangement leading to the
trip or that has culminated into the trip can be described
as awkward and absurd.
The problem from an intrepid point is mainly due to a
plethora of delays from the hosts as there is no need to
mince words on such a disheartening issue which has once
more shown the ugly and disorganized side of the African
game that generally continues to to be miles behind.
Initially, the trip was slated for Monday, August 12, which
would have given the players a two day rest ahead of the
friendly. But, with the hosts providing a plane in the form
of a chartered flight for the trip, it was put to the
following day with the team manager of Equatorial Guinea,
Jesus Ndong Sam noting " we could not come to Liberia on
Monday for the Lone Star because the plane (Ceibar Air, the
country's national airline) made two trips to the commercial
Capital Bata in taking a high power government delegation
for a meeting, and we did not want to bring the smaller
plane (32 seated) to Liberia which would have been
embarrassing as only the playing body and the technical crew
might have traveled, so we had to wait for the bigger plane"
The plane returned to Malabo very late, thus the trip had to
be put to Tuesday, August 13.
There were however delays as everyone making the trip
including delegation head Rep. Edwin Melvin Snowe were made
to understand that check in time at the RIA would be 9:00
AM, but to the discontentment of the delegation, the plane
from Malabo arrived at 3:45 PM with the take off time been
5:06 PM. After surprisingly spending three hours on the
flight to get to Lome, there was close to an hour spend
there for refueling of the plane.
Two hours would be spend from Lome to Malabo and after
arrival there was more frustration as more than two hours
was spend on the airport with little or no security check
but just sitting and little movement with repeated
instructions, all that can be described as unnecessary
delays. A furious Coach kaetu Smith then told the hosts team
Manager, "you don't treat athletes this way. "We would have
never done this to your team"
In the end, the delegation arrived at the Hotel Tropicana by
12:05 (after midnight). Note that the country is an hour
ahead of Liberia which means the delegation arrived 1:05
Liberian time. Technically, the trip lasted for 15 hours,
but this time not just in the air, but delays in getting
flight, time wasting on the airport, etc.
All was not completely over as dinner or breakfast since it
was already the new day was served by 2:00 AM with the
players going to bed an hour later. This means they players
had the most torrid of time and since they are playing on
Wednesday, it would be a tall order. How well will the
technical crew motivate them in such a stressful period
remains to be seen.
The team might do some light training in the morning hours
with the game reportedly pushed from 4:00PM local time to
7:00 PM which will be 6:00 PM in Liberia mainly due to the
delay. The body language of the players said it all as some
have already started suffering from fatigue. But, if they
can be mentally tough in such weighty period and impress,
such melee would be highly memorable.