By: Anthony Kokoi
After advancing to the second phase of the ongoing National County Sports Meet, Montserrado and Maryland counties yesterday booked their slots in the semi-finals of the competition at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium, with seven and four points respectively.
The Harper Boys advanced to the semi-finals despite conceding 2-1 to Grand Cape Mount County in the day’s first encounter.
Cape Mount took the lead in the first half following a controversial decision by referee Sam Kotie.
Referee Kotie sounded his whistle and raised his arm indicating an indirect free kick, but the goal was scored through a direct free kick in the stoppage time of the first half.
According to FIFA rules, a goal may not be scored directly from an indirect free kick, rather it must be touched by a second player before a goal can be scored.
Despite going for the break and down from the controversial goal, the Harpers Boys returned with a high level of enthusiasm and applied pressure on their opponents.
Their attacks resulted to a goal after Victor Allison smartly swung in a goal about 20 yards away, down the left wing of Cape Mount’s defense, in the 59th minute.
But Cape Mount, in search of two goals, regained control – which led to the team’s second goal in the 80th minute.
In the second game, Montserrado booked their space after defeating River Gee 2-0.
The first half ended goalless with River Gee having the best of goal scoring opportunities.
River Gee’s winger, Musa Kamara, had two opportunities in the 5th and 33rd minutes, the former struck with his left foot outside the 18-yard box that was prevented by the left goalpost.
The latter chance was a one-on-one opportunity that Kamara failed to net home by kicking the ball directly to goalkeeper Koffa Nimely.
River Gee continued their attacks upon returning from the break in search of win to qualify for the semi-final, but Montserrado finally secured the slot after a double substitution in the 64th minute.
The introduction of the county’s lone goal scorer against Grand Cape Mount, Joseph Zayzay and striker Musa Kebbah brought a change in the team’s performance which led to Zayzay’s second goal as a substitute, four minutes after his introduction.
Montserrado doubled their advantage to clinch their spot as semi-finalists after striker Musa Kebbah got the curtain raiser in the 73rd minute, with an assist from first goal scorer, Zayzay.
Montserrado qualified for the next stage with seven points, three goals following a win against Grand Cape Mount and River Gee counties and a draw against Maryland County, who progressed with four points and a goal after defeating River Gee and securing a point against Montserrado County in their first game in the second phase.
Musa Karama of River Gee earned a carton of books, football and cellcom T-shirts for being the Man of the Match by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, despite his team not qualifying for the semi-finals.
The next two semi-finalists from Group “B” will be decided today at the ATS, when Nimba County goes against Lofa County, and Margibi County against defending champions Grand Bassa County.
Margibi tops the group with four points, while Grand Bassa and Nimba counties share two points apiece, with Lofa in the bottom position with a point.