MONROVIA, Montserrado – The 2017 LISCR Trust Tournament has come to an end with its organizers, the Liberia first division and FA Cup champions, LISCR Football Club, finishing as winners.
The Shipping Boys were crowned champions of the preseason tournament after an emphatic 1-0 win over the Port Boys of the NPA Anchors Football Club. Sheku Sheriff’s loan goal in the 65th minute was enough to hand the CAF Champions League representatives their third trophy in 2017.
The tournament brought together eight teams from the First and Second Division Leagues that included two of the three newly promoted teams to each division plus four First Division teams that played the 2016-17 First Division League. Watanga, Keitrace, Monrovia Club Breweries and host LISCR FC were the four 2016-17 First Division clubs while NPA Anchors and Small Town FC represented the newly promoted First Division clubs.
The newly promoted Bristol Football Club and Pags Football Club were the two lower tier club that played in the competition.
With eight teams involved, the tournament was played on a knockout basis, as winning teams progressed to the subsequent rounds until the final.
On match day one, the first game of the tournament saw First Division newcomers NPA Anchors eliminating Monrovia Club Breweries after a 2-0 win before the most shocking result surfaced in game two.
Newly promoted second division side Bristol FC upset First Division side Watanga by eliminating them from the competition. The Margibi-based team eliminated Watanga in a post-match penalty. Bristol won 7-6 from the spot to set up a semifinal clash with game one winner, NPA Anchors.
The host, LISCR FC, played the first game in style as they managed a 3-0 win over third division championship club, Pags FC. Towering striker Christopher Jackson inspired the Shipping Boys with a brace while new signee Amadiah Kawah scored from the penalty spot to wrap up a comfortable win as they advanced to semifinals. Newly promoted first division side, Small Town Football Club, set up a semifinal clash with LISCR after a narrow 3-2 win over Keitrace FC’s Giant Killers.
Bristol FC bowed to a 3-2 defeat, unable to repeat their shocking form in the semifinals against the NPA Anchors. Bristol nearly turned things around against NPA as they came from three goals to get two before the end of the match. The Port Boys got a three-goal lead and made several substitutions, including the introduction of former LISCR shot-stopper, Gabriel Okotie, who later got beaten twice in goal.
A goal each from Emmanuel Kantan, Emmanuel Nimely, and Kortee Symthe in the 39th, 59th, and 60th minutes gave NPA a 3-0 lead before Bristol squeezed in two late goals to reduce the deficit. Abraham Kamara and Friday David scored in the 83rd and 86th minutes to bring back Bristol’s hope of another shocking result. However, they failed to get on the scoresheet until the full time as NPA narrowly marched to the final.
LISCR’s ruthless attack from their first game against Pags FC continued in the semifinals when they thrashed the newly promoted Small Town Football Cub. The Gardnersville-based club showed the new boys life in the First Division with a destructive 4-0 win. The newly signed Mark Paye led the attack of the Shipping Boys against the Logan Town-based club. The former BYC striker scored twice to help LISCR grab an easy win. Christopher Jackson and Amadiah Kawah, who was just signed from Keitrace, scored the remaining two goals to help LISCR wrap up a 4-0 win. The goal was Jackson’s third of the tournament from two games while Kawah got his second from two games.
Sunday, December 17 became the day that fans would gather at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium to know who walks away with the giant trophy and the L$30,000 (US$240) cash prize. With LISCR scoring seven goals without conceding from two games, and NPA managing to get five goals and conceding twice, LISCR became the favorite for the title ahead of the final clash.
Unlike their previous games where they scored as many times, the match against NPA became a difficult one for LISCR FC, which found it difficult in getting the back of the net. The Shipping Boys failed to get a goal until the 65th minute when midfielder Sheku Sheriff made his way through the NPA defense to beat Joshua Williams who conceded a goal for the first time in the tournament.
The First Division champions broke the deadlock and struggled to get a goal again as NPA failed to level the score before the end of the match. LISCR defended their one-goal lead until the sound of the final whistle as they became the champions of the LISCR Trust Tournament.
NPA finished the tournament as runner-up and was presented a trophy while winners, LISCR FC was given the cash prize and winner’s trophy.
Playing three games, scoring eight goals and not conceding, there were no doubts over LISCR being the best team of the tournament as they got five of the seven individuals awards. Despite failing to score in the final, Christopher Jackson finished on top of the goal chart with three goals from three games, while LISCR Gambian coach was recognized as the best coach of the tournament.
Despite spending less than three months in training with his new teammates, central defender Kemoh Kamara showed that the L$225,000 (US$1,800) paid to acquire his services from Barrack Young Controllers wasn’t a waste. He played a major role in keeping LICSR from conceding goals. His partnership with Gambian central defender Adama Sabally proved to be the right one as the pair stood firm in the defense to ensure LISCR didn’t give away goals.
Sheku Sheriff won the Most Valuable Player award after his performance in the midfield for LISCR FC. He may have just scored once, which was in the final, but the former Gardnersville star player played a major role in all of the matches that saw LISCR showing total dominance.
Joshua Williams might have been unfortunate to finish as winner of the tournament, but his magical goalkeeping was something to watch as he guided the Port Boys to the final without conceding in two matches. The NPA number one shot-stopper conceded just once from three games. He might not have been crowned champion, but walked out the stadium as a proud man after being named the best goalkeeper of the tournament. His teammate Kortee Symthe won the best midfielder for his fine form in the center in all of NPA’s games. Symthe found the net twice to help NPA reach the final. Both of his goals came against Club Breweries and Bristol in the first and second game.
The 2017 LISCR Trust Tournament was the competition’s third edition. It was first introduced in 2012 and was played in 2013 before being resumed this year.
Featured photo by T. Kla Wesley Jr.