MONROVIA, Montserrado – The 2017 Liberia Football Association Knockout Competition kicked off last week with defending champions Monrovia Club Breweries advancing to the next round along with fellow first division clubs, LPRC Oilers, Jubilee Football Club, second division teams, Bea Mountain, Holders FC and third division club, Morris Young Tiger.
The competition kicked off on Monday, April 24 with relegated first division team, NPA Anchor playing against second division newcomer, Bea Mountain. With the experience of NPA’s top players that includes former LISCR’s striker James Richardson, they were the favorite to reach the next round but failed to live up to expectation after bowing out on penalties.
Both teams were unable to get a goal in the regular 90 minutes and the winner had to be decided from penalty spot where Bea Mountain was declared winners after a 4-3 shootout win.
Defending champions Monrovia Club Breweries ensured they reached the next round following an emphatic 2-1 win over Margibi’s third division Harbel Athletics in the day’s second match.
With their excellent form in the ongoing national first division league, Club Breweries were the clear favorite in the match that many expected to be a one-sided encounter. However, that expectation was nearly challenged when Harbel Athletics put out a strong fight.
The Beer Boys showed they were a top class team and ready for business by scoring an early goal. The New Kru Town-based club opened the scoring just two minutes into the match through George Jackson before adding their second and final goal four minutes later through Charles Buima.
Two goals in six minutes, certainly fans were expecting the match to be a goal-flooded one for the Breweries but it was all the opposite with Breweries failing to score again until the end of the match. It was the Margibi team that was able to get the back of the net when former Swankamore Football Club striker Macathur Gloe scored from the penalty spot in the 78th minutes to restore his side’s hopes.
The vital goal gave Harbel Athletics the hope of getting the second before the 90 minutes as they became the better side after reducing the deficit. However, their efforts in getting a goal were fruitless with Club Breweries putting out a strong defense that stopped the third division side from getting a goal again.
First division league trailers, LPRC Oilers put behind them their disappointing form in the league as they advanced to the second round of the Knockout Cup. The Oil Boys ensured they reached the second round of the competition after a narrow 1-0 win over second division side, Small Town Football Club. Two second half goals from former LISCR winger Sam Jadoe were enough to send the Oilers through.
The biggest upset so far in the competition came for second division team Nimba FC that was knocked out by third division championship club Morris Young Tiger.
The Church Boys of Jubilee Football Club recorded their biggest win the 2016-17 football season with an easy 4-0 win over second division side Nimba Kwadoe. A double strike from George Kerkula and a goal each from Edward Selebah and Trokn Zeopugar thrashed the Nimba team to send Jubilee through to the second round.
Second division side Holders Football Club joined the list of qualified teams with a penalty shootout win over fellow second division club, Tony FC. After playing to a goalless draw in full 90 minutes where there were several chances missed, the winner had to be decided from the penalty spot where Holder won 7-6.
The competition was to continue over the weekend with some exciting matches that fans had been hoping for. However, the remaining four matches were postponed due to the funeral of former Mighty Barrolle president, Theophilus C. Gould.
The remaining fixtures will feature nine first division teams, four-second division teams, and three teams from the third division championship.
LISCR FC will go in search of their second victory over Watanga Football Club from what will be their third time meeting in the 2016-17 Liberian football league season. The Shipping boys had just collected three points against Watanga in the first division league following a narrow 4-3win.
A third division championship team is bound to reach the second round of the competition when Muscat Football Club plays GAC Football Club. Both teams will be looking for their first win against each other this season after they both played to a goalless draw in the Central Monrovia third division championship league.
The biggest match in the first round of the Knock Out will come alive between two clubs that are considered to be inarguably the best in the ongoing first division, FC Fassell and Barrack Young Controllers.
Already beaten by FC Fassell in the first phase of the first division league, BYC will hope to avoid another defeat as they will go in search of a revenge. Fassell currently tops the first division table with 31 points, six points over second place BYC that has a game in hand.
Like the LPRC Oilers, who are relegation threatened, Invisible Eleven has won just once from 12 games in the first division league and will be hoping to put behind them their disappointing league performance when they meet second division club, Mighty Blue Angel. The Sunshine Yellow Boys are currently undergoing their worst form in Liberian football and a win over Blue Angel might help put their season back on track.
The remaining four fixtures will see first division club Keitrace Football Club take on Mighty Kakata of the second division. First division team Nimba United will also lock horns with second division side Jai FC. Additionally, the struggling first division club, Mighty Barrolle, will go against Samira FC of the third division championship while ELWA United of the first division will play Freeport FC.
Featured photo by T. Kla Wesley, Jr.