Liberia Amputee Soccer Team Struggles in the United States

 
Liberian amputees in front of their home in Washington, D.C.
Liberian amputees in front of their home in Washington, D.C.
 
 
James Butty

There’s a controversy brewing in Washington about the Liberia amputee soccer team that came to the United States over a month ago. It appears the three-time African Nation Tournament champions are stranded, and some say their current situation is their own making.

According to members of the team (15 in all), they had been invited by the United States Amputees Football Federation to take part in an international friendly match that was supposed to be held in the state of Maryland in early August this year. But before they could leave Liberia, the tournament had been canceled.

Still, the team decided to come to the United States but without proper arrangements in terms of accommodation. Now it appears they are having a tough time in terms of meeting their basic daily needs.

Rough conditions in Liberia

Cooper Melvin Goteh, president of the Liberia Amputee Soccer Association, told VOA the team came to the United States despite the cancelation of their tournament to explain to the world the deplorable conditions under which they live in Liberia. 

He said Liberian amputees lack decent housing, education, and food and many have turned to panhandling in front of hotels. Goteh said the team came to the United States despite their tournament being canceled to appeal for assistance.

Persistence Keeps Zah Going

 

 

By Wleh Bedell

 
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When Zah Rahan Krangar made his international debut on September 23, 2006 against the Nzalang Nacional of Equatorial Guinea in Malabu, many felt the diminutive midfielder would have played for short term as he would soon be in the past.

The simple passing playmaker who also has an eye for goal was then plying his trade in Indonesia with Persikabpas and like other stars from Indonesia was often berated with many claiming there was no football in that part of the world. Coaches of the national team especially Frank Jericho Nagbe who kept faith in Zah and co were often accused of receiving bribes and even journalists who wrote on them were given all sorts of names, but Zah in particular kept his cool, remained persistent and kept on knocking on the doors of the Lone Star despite some higher ups in football administration also overlooking Zah and the Indonesian based players.

Zah had come on holiday and was along with Murphy Nagbe, Stephen Mennoh, Ezeah Benson and Perry Kollie called to camp by Coach Jericho, but the quartet had to leave the camp on grounds that they were been overlooked since their ticket refund was not been addressed. Zah however decided to stay, swallowed the bitter pills and travelled with the team to Equatorial Guinea and even got the Lone Star solitary goal in the 1-2 loss.

Fast forward, "twinkle twinkle little" Zah has since established himself as a mainstay in the Lone Star and was even given the captain's armband by Facebook critic turned coach James Debbah in the Lone Star recent 1-2 loss to Togo's Sparrow Hawks on match week one of the 2017 qualifier.

With 22 caps for country, the 30 year old who is now in the twilight of his career is a quiet footballer who is more a team player. On a favorable day, he can create a screen in front his opponents defense with two sumptuous strike against a star studded Ghanaian side in a friendly at the Samuel Kanyon Doe sports stadium among the highlight of his international career. The player who now features for Malaysian side Fidel, was along with compatriot Patrick Ronaldinho Wleh selected to the Malaysian XI with the latter netting a goal against Liverpool in a friendly as Zah showcased himself to greater effect.

How times can fly, the once maligned, pin sized class act has now become an asset for the Lone Star as this discipline lad continues to keep his feet on the ground, head up high as he enjoys his football in serving his motherland. From the local scene with the disbanded Ducor Defenders and Karn United to Bamenda in Cameroon after a stint in Ghana with DISM and then to Cameroon and now Malaysia, Zah's persistence has paid off as his game has now once more proved that though where one plays matters, but what matters most and what one plays.

The gem could be used in the hole on this Saturday September 5, against Tunisia at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium where he is expected to be deployed some eight meters behind the front men of Francis Doe and William Jebor in a compact 4-3-1-2 formation that could also be altered to a 4-4-2 diamond as he will operate at the tip of the diamond, spraying the passes as a terquartista providing the defense splitting passes or final ball in the final third. Also, the light skinned technically gifted player can pick up the crumbs in firing for goal as his team attitude, composure, subtle moves and desire will help the 1996 African Nations cup debutants a lot against the first African team to win a match at the World Cup.

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