PAYNESVILLE, Montserrado – The national football team of Liberia played its second game of the 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifiers on Sunday, September 9 against the Leopards of D.R. Congo, ending the game tied at 1 – 1.
Lone Star came close to snatching the win, but the visitors got the equalizer in the dying minutes to share points. William Jebor put the Lone Star ahead in the 61st minute but the Leopards got the score leveled in the 82nd minute through Elia Meshack.
It was a game that brought together thousands of Liberians at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex to watch the nation’s pride and joy. The stadium was filled to capacity with Liberians wearing their red, white, and blue to cheer a Lone Star team headed by Coach Thomas Kojo.
Tommy Songo started in goal ahead of the injured Boison Wynney. Joel Johnson, who made his debut for Lone Star, started at the right-back position while Gudja United defender Adolphus Marshall played at left-back. In midfield was LISCR FC’s Allen Njie, who was recently named the most valuable player of the WAFU U-20 Nations Cup and Slovan Liberec’s Murphy Oscar Dorley. Toni Tisdell and Anthony Laffor started on the wings while William Jebor and Sam Johnson were paired at the front.
Kojo’s boys stormed the pitch with pressure in an attempt to get an early goal. The decision to start Tonia Tisdell and Anthony Laffor on the wings while playing William Jebor and Sam Johnson up front proved to be smart, as Lone Star’s attack squad created several goal scoring chances in the early minutes.
Despite playing the first half goalless, it was Liberia that proved to be the better side by having much of the possession and creating the only goal chances. Valerenga forward Sam Johnson came close to scoring twice in the first half but squandered the opportunities of taking Liberia to the break with the lead.
However, the boys returned stronger in the second half. Jebor was the man many Liberians were looking up to get the nation ahead. The Wydad Casablanca striker nearly delivered in the 56th minute with a shot from the edge of the box that was denied by D.R. Congo’s goalkeeper, Anthony Mossi.
Four minutes after denying Jebor, Mossi finally conceded a goal when Jebor struck again. The goal scoring machine got Liberia ahead in the 61st minute with a power shot from the edge of the box. Sam Johnson may have failed to score but he registered an assist when he drove in from the right side of the pitch to find Jebor, who shot the ball to the back of the net.
Up by a goal, fans in the stadium went wild. With more than 20 minutes to play, there were hopes for additional goals by a Lone Star team that kept attacking.
Coach Kojo made two substitutions in the second half that appeared to have slowed down the pace of the match. Tonia Tisdell was replaced by Russian-based attacker Sylvanus Nimely while South Korea-based Seku Conneh was brought in for the Mamelodi Sundowns’ forward Anthony Laffor.
After the substitutions, Liberia’s dangerous attacks from the wings were lost and the Congolese wing-backs were free to fly in an attack in search of an equalizer. The visitors pushed for an equalizer until the 82nd minute when Elia Meshack capitalized on a defensive error to get the score leveled.
Suddenly, Liberia’s three points at home were divided, with only eight minutes left in the match. The pressure fell on Thomas Kojo’s team, which needed the win to keep alive their hopes. However, they were unable to score again as the match ended one apiece.
Liberia may have drawn the match but Kojo sounded proud of his team. In the post-match press conference, he praised his side for their display on the pitch and said they were unfortunate to snatch the three points.
“You all watched the game and saw how we played,” Kojo told reporters. “We were the better side. We dominated the match. We had more goal chances than them. Their only chance was the goal they scored. We played well but were just unfortunate to get the three points.”
Liberia remains at the bottom of Group G with one point. They are tied in points with Congo Brazzaville, which was also held at home by the group leader, Zimbabwe.
Featured photo by T. Kla Wesley Jr.