MONROVIA, Montserrado – The 2018 LISCR Unification Cup has come to an end with the Liberia First Division side, LPRC Oilers Football Club, and the under 15 side of the Sam Johnson Academy, emerging as champions.
The 22-team tournament concluded during the weekend with fans turning out in numbers at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium to watch the final match between the Sam Johnson Academy u-15 and Sinkor-based youth team, Cece United. The game began at 2:00 p.m., followed by the battle between second division side, Tony Football Club and the LPRC Oilers.
The Sam Johnson Academy continued their good form in the tournament with a 2-0 win over Cece United. They had previously grabbed a 3-1 win over CT United, which sent them to the final where they met Cece United, a team that had eliminated the Monrovia Football Academy. A 2-0 win for the Sam Johnson Academy in the final was enough to make them the champions of the u-15 category.
The second game of the final day of the competition between Tony FC and LPRC Oilers was the match that attracted fans to the Antoinette Tubman Stadium. With Tony FC eliminating top teams, including the Indian-based All-Star and Jubilee Football Club, there was no doubt that they would be a tough opponent for LPRC Oilers which had eliminated hosts LISCR FC on post-match penalties.
As expected, the Margibi-based side began the match as the better side as they went on to take a well-deserved lead through Lester Boyd in the 22nd minute and defended their lead until the end of the first half. Tony needed only to defend their lead in the remaining 45 minutes to return to Margibi as champions of the LISCR Unification Cup.
However, the LPRC Oilers ensured the trophy remained in Montserrado as they returned stronger in the second half to prove they are a top tier club. Ten minutes after the match resumed, the Oil Boys got the score leveled to put pressure on a tired Tony team.
The equalizer wasn’t the result the Oiler Boys needed as they went on searching for more goals to stop the match from going to penalty kicks. Former BYC FC’s midfielder, Junior Barshall, was the hero of the day with a long range shot that beat Tony FC’s goalkeeper, David James.
Barshall’s goal was the difference between the two teams at the end of the match as the LPRC Oilers became the champions of the 2018 LISCR Unification Cup.
The tournament ended in style with an official closing ceremony where there were certificates to outstanding players and coaches of the tournament, including the cash prizes. Champions LPRC Oilers walked away with a giant trophy and US$1,000 while second place Tony FC was given US$500. The Sam Johnson Academy u-15 team were given US$100 as cash prize plus a trophy.
The individual awards in the u-15 category were dominated by the Sam Johnson Academy, which won the best coach and the highest goal scorer award. Theophilus Nyumah was handed the highest goal scorer certificate while head coach Emmanuel S. George was named the best coach. The most valuable player award was won by Cece United’s Isaac Harmon, who had brilliant performances in his side’s two games played.
Meanwhile, the individual awards in the senior category was dominated by the losing side, Tony FC. LPRC Oilers’ Varney Dukuly finished as the highest goal scorer with four goals in three games but Tony FC’s captain, Aaron Hallie, who won two Man of the Match awards, was named the most valuable player. Otis Tarnue of Tony FC was named the best coach of the tournament after leading his side to three consecutive wins before losing the final.
The secretary general of LISCR FC, Swen Bedell, was glad that his club was able to bring football to the eyes of many supporters after more than eight months without league football. Speaking to The Bush Chicken after the tournament, Bedell said, “As you can see, the turnouts were good. Even during midweek games, fans were out here cheering their teams. I’m really happy that we were able to bring football back the fans.”
He expressed hope that the Liberia Football Association could finally start the league season for this year.
Featured photo courtesy of Anthony Kokoi