Overweight Galley James exposed Liberia's goalkeeping problem
By Boy Dolo
The chubby Watanga FC goalkeeper was left embarrassed after donating two goals and sharing another fault with the defense as Liberia squandered another chance to appear at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Galley James’ Sunday performance in the Lone Star of Liberia 4-1 thrashing at the hands of the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia could be recorded by pundits as one of worst goalkeeping mistakes in the Country’s football history.
As though the four goals conceded against the Moroccan Under23 Team in an international friendly prior to the match was not of concern, James failed to live up to the trust imposed in him by Head Coach James Debbah.
He was preferred over Tommy Songo who has been inactive since the 2-2 draw against Togo in June, but it was like Debbah’s statistical and technical judgment was useless as the six feet tall stopper appeared jumpy between the poles.
The Lone conceded in just five minute, but looked to have reconsolidated after the goal; however the goalkeeper created the second goal 30 minutes later.
A through-pass beat the Lone Star defense and Goalkeeper James came up brilliantly scaring Tunisian attacker Taha Khenissi who was chasing the ball, but the Watanga FC man Jet Lee’s kick was not good enough to punch the ball away as he directed in the way of the Tunisian who slotted it home with ease.
James had an option to grab the ball or even take his time to kick it way after he has already put fear in the Tunisian striker, but he anxiously miss kicked.
As if that was not enough, the stopper again jittered in clearing a pass from a teammate, thus giving the ball away to an opponent. In his recovery fight, he caused a penalty, henceforth; Hamza Lahmar scored as Tunisia made it 4-1.
Substitute Mark Paye brought hope to the team by scoring three minutes after he was introduced with the score still at 2-1, James again failed to clear a 30-yard shot as he sent the ball over to a rushing Saber Khalifa and the Tunisian made 3-1 before the follow up error.
Since Nathaniel Sherman retired after an eye injury, none of the local goalkeepers have proven their worth to succeed the Barrack Young Controller (BYC) man.
Experience Saydee Swen was the one tipped to do so, but he has since been parked after his listless showing against Guinea Bissau in the 2018 World Cup qualifier earlier this year.
He was replaced by Tommy Songo, but the LISCR FC man appeared to be contented with his achievement, as he has since dropped down the picking order at the Club, hence Debbah had to rely on James who had great performance on the local scene with Watanga FC last season.
Though, Gally James should take much of the responsibilities, but the Lone Star defense on the other hand was quite feeble.
Skipper Teah Dennis and colleagues, Dirkir Glay, Gizzi Dorbor and Solomon Grimes were easily overtaken by the Tunisian strike force as the goals kept coming in.
Fullbacks, Dorbor and Grimes did not complete a single- cross or even a through -pass in their opponents’ half, but they were easily swift around by the Tunisian attackers.
This mean, Liberia will have to again wait for the 2019 qualifier after the dream of qualifying for the third time was crushed by Tunisia in a Group A clash in Monastir Sunday.
The Carthage Eagles came into the match in Monastir needing a victory to leapfrog the Lone Stars at the top of the group and guarantee qualification.
They got off to a perfect start when Wahbi Khazri put them ahead just five minutes in, and half an hour later their lead was doubled by Taha Khenissi, ensuring a comfortable 2-0 advantage at the break.
Liberia threatened a comeback when Mark Paye netted with just under 20 minutes to play, but the West Africans’ hopes were dashed when a quick pair of goals from Saber Khalifa and Hamza Lahmar put the hosts 4-1 ahead.
In the end the victory saw Tunisia move to the top of Group A on 13 points, while Liberia on 10 points dropped to third place and were eliminated from the running for Gabon 2017.
Togo secured an unlikely qualification following their 5-0 whipping of minnows Djibouti.
This saw them move into second place in Group A (up from third after Tunisia beat Liberia 4-1 to claim top spot and push the Lone Stars out of the top two) and their haul of 11 points and a goal difference of plus seven saw them oust Benin and join Uganda as the two best runners-up
National Team Starting XI against Tunisia:
Van Dave Harmon