MONROVIA, Montserrado – The semifinal stage of the inaugural Blue Cup is finally completed, with first division club LICSR Football Club and second division side Barrack Young Controllers II completing the remaining two spots on the second and final day of the first-round matches.
After the host, Barrack Young Controllers’ senior team, was sent out of the tournament on the opening day by third division outfit, Muscat Football Club, their junior team redeemed the Go Blue fans after reaching the tournament’s semifinals. The Junior Go Blue reached the semifinals following a narrow 3-2 win over first division relegated side, Mighty Barrolle.
BYC II will now be hoping to reach the final of the competition when they face first division side, LISCR Football Club in the semifinals that will be played on Thursday, May 10. The Shipping Boys set up the semifinal clash with BYC II after their 5-2 win over third division outfit, Samira Football Club.
The Liberia Football Association first division league and FA Cup champions made sure they avoided a repeat of the shocking result seen on the opening day of the competition as they pull out a five-star performance to send Samira out of the tournament.
It was a game that saw fans watching the return of Mark Paye, Kemoh Kamara, and Hilton Varney to the Blue Field since their departure at the end of the 2016-17 league season. LISCR FC’s Gambian coach, Tapha Manneh, didn’t overlook his opponent. He named a strong team to give the needed result.
Manneh’s squad included Edward Ledlum, Benjamin Doe, Allen Njie, and Sheku Sheriff who all recently featured for the Liberia’s U-20 team in the 2018 WAFU U-20 Nations Cup.
His strong selection gave him the needed result, with his team scoring just in the second minute of the match. Mark Paye capitalized on a goalkeeping error to give LISCR the lead just two minutes into the match. The lead was quickly doubled six minutes later through Amadiah Kawah who scored with a header from Mark Paye’s assist. Less than ten minutes into the match, LISCR was up by two goals and the signs of the shocking score in the opening day were disappearing.
Despite LISCR’s early threats with two quick goals, Samira was never deterred as they kept their hopes high in search of a goal. The Scoring Scorpions made used of their first attack on LISCR FC in the ninth minute when they pull a goal back. The match appeared to be a goal scoring feast with three goals scored before the tenth minute.
The one-goal deficit was not safe for LISCR, which went into attack mode after conceding. The Gardnersville-based club showed they were the better side on the pitch by dominating the possession and creating chances, although they failed to convert these to register more goals. However, they restored their two goals lead in the 21st minute through Mark Paye, who again scored from an embarrassing goalkeeping error.
The former Barrack Young Controllers man was getting the goals for LISCR FC on a field where he spent more than three years of his playing career.
The Shipping Boys were brilliant in attack but poor in defense as they failed to prevent Samira from scoring again. They conceded for the second time in the 38th minute as Samira’s hopes of causing damage grew higher.
LISCR defended its 3-2 lead until the end of the first half to go to the break with the advantage. Not many were thinking that LISCR would have convincingly beaten Samira with the first half performance which saw Samira pulling two goals back.
Tapha Manneh’s side returned from the break with a different game plan as he quickly introduced Edwad Ledlum, Allen Njie, and Sheku Sheriff. It was a substitution that changed the game around and LISCR’s dominance in the second half was unstoppable. The substitute Ledlum scored two goals in the second half to help LISCR to a 5-2 win at the end of the final whistle.
LISCR will continue its journey in the tournament on Thursday, May 10, when they face BYC II in the day’s second semifinal game.
Featured photo by T. Kla Wesley Jr