Liberia Gets Biggest Win Ever in Djibouti Mauling
By Wleh Bedell
It was expected. Djibouti are the unsung underdogs, easy to beat and are quite a light weight side.
The Lone Star of Liberia recorded their biggest win ever when they trounced the easiest of opponents, Djibouti 5-0 in a match day four qualifier of the Gabon 2017 Nations Cup finals.
Any serious or determined club in Liberia would have even beaten the visitors who are an aging side, have an erratic goalkeeper, porous defense, uncoordinated midfield and sterile front line. To make matter worse, the East African minnows seemed to lack the ambition, passion and desire to make any meaningful impact in the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) walloping. A goal each from Anthony Laffor and Sam Johnson in the first period was followed by an easy hat trick from William Jebor in the second half as the ATS went in frenzy.
An eighth minute penalty from Anthony Laffor opened the flood gate. Though Jebor was upended outside the box where the initial contact was made, the Spain based finisher carried his marker in the box before falling as the referee from Cape Verde sounded for a penalty and Laffor calmly finished as he completed back to back goals against lowly rated Djibouti.
Sam Johnson was given a gift by the goalkeeper after he made a howler of the player's relatively weak effort as the teams went for recess.
In the second half, it was an all Jebor affair as he netted a hat trick, his second for country, making him the best Liberian striker statistically and the top scorer in this current generation with seven goals. They were relatively easy goals though, no disrespect. The first was an over the top ball from goal keeper Tommy Sango that saw the ball beat the lethargic center backs for Jebor to tap in after 72 seconds. For his second goal, a pass intended for the opposing goalie went in the path of the former Oilers and LISCR man who slotted it in and the final goal was a copy book one as it was packaged in three countries and delivered at the ATS. It all began when the debutant from Norway Dawuda Bortu, teed up the United States based Sekou Konneh who completed the pass to Jebor from Spain that was easily finished to add more gloss to the scoreline.
Before this win, the Lone Star biggest win was the 5-1 trashing of Congo Brazzaville's Red Devils on January 14, 2001 in a Mali 2002 African cup qualifier.
In their traditional 4-4-2 formation, the Lone Star defense that comprised Solomon Grimes, local lad Hilton Varney, Omega Roberts Alamadine and Teah Dennis, did not have mush work to do against a lethargic Djibouti side that were just happy to be there as defeat means nothing to them. The full backs of Grimes and Varney were not really impactful especially in terms of moving forward as they rarely provided crosses. Also, the centerback pairing of Dennis and Alamadine looked poor as they both have similar qualities, not the rugged or physical style footballers, but more about technique and picking up the crumbs, lose balls and starting from the back. At times, they crossed into each other path and Omega in particular was or did nothing special as he failed to rage forward on most occasion with the ball at his feet.
The veteran Alseny Keita operated inn the holding role position as his simple passing, neat build up play was a handful to the opposition. But, in fairness, against a weak side like Djibouti, the Lone Star needed a deep lying playmaker order than a holding midfielder as the visitors were mostly lesss threatening. With a deep lying playmaker, the team would have being more adventurous, pull more bodies infront and created more options when on the front foot. Theo Weeks Lewis who played the central attacking midfield role, was deeply involved in showboating surprisingly to the delight of the crowd. He made less defense splitting passes and his skills and flair on display were pleasing though, but was not mostly progressive. Nonetheless, he had a fine game. Anthony Laffor and Dioh Williams operated on the flanks. Laffor was a bit too individualistic as he often went alone and failed to release lurking playmates. Dioh complete more dribbles than anyone on the park as his skills and trickery made him a difficult proposition for the easy to beat side. He ran out of steam though and should have even being substituted after 72 minutes, but only the Heavens know why Debbah allowed him to end the match. In fact, he was to be belatedly substituted in the 86 minutes before a less adventurous Grimes was injured and had to be replaced by Duada Bortu.
The front two of William Jebor and Sam Johnson though netted four goals, proved not to be a good pair tactically, but it was not really seen by many. Against the likes of Togo, such will be visible. They both played ontop each other and Sam Johnson in particular was too pugnacious, wanted all balls as he quarreled with teammates openly when they gave a pass to someone order than him in the goal area. As for Jebor, he could have scored a double hat trick but missed clear chances and still lack lateral mobility. He is more of the target man went in the box and a bit deep at times, but often abandon to move to lateral areas or wide in creating a diversion or decoy for advancing midfielders mostly.
Substitute Kpah Sherman who went on for an injured Laffor was a disappointment and Konneh who replaced Johnson created few anxious moments as he provided the assists for the fifth goal. He however conceded possession quite often.
The young lad Bortu who was introduced in the four minutes of added time, made just two touches and his first effort resulted in a foul. He was keen to impress, closed down opponents and was moving over the park. Its 180 minutes to goal against the double T of Togo and Tunisia with the Lone Star now on top with nine points from four matches followed by Tunisia with seven and are levelled with Togo on points but are second on the head to head rule.
Player ratings to follow.