PAYNESVILLE, Montserrado – The famous number worn by Africa’s most celebrated soccer player is expected to be retired across all levels of Liberia’s national teams.
President George Manneh Weah wore number 14 during his days representing the Lone Star and that number will be retired at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex when Liberia battles the Super Eagles of Nigeria today.
The announcement was made by the Minister of Youth and Sports, Zoegar Wilson, in a brief press conference before Lone Star’s match against D.R. Congo that ended in a 1-1 draw. Wilson said retiring the number was a way of paying respect to a man who had taken the Liberian flag to the highest level in football.
In 1995, Weah, who was playing for Italian giant AC Milan, became the only African to win the highest individual award in world football when he was named the FIFA World Player of the Year award. The former Invincible Elevens striker also led Liberia to the 1997 and 2002 African Cup of Nations hosted in South Africa and Mali, respectively.
While the match is part of Weah’s number retirement program, it will also be a strong test for newly appointed coach Thomas Kojo, who is in search of his first win since taking over. Kojo recently led the Lone Star to a goalless draw against Sierra Leone in a friendly match on July 22 and another 1-1 draw against D.R. Congo on Sunday, September 9.
A win on Tuesday for Liberia will mean a lot for Kojo, who is expected to face a stronger Nigerian side comprising of top-notch players.
The match today will be the 14th meeting between the two countries. Liberia may be playing at home, but Nigeria will go the match as the team tipped to win. From the 13 games played against Liberia, the Super Eagles have managed eight wins, two draws, and three defeats.
The last time the two teams met was 2012 in the 2013 Nations Cup qualifiers. Liberia settled to a 2-2 draw at home before bowing to a 6-1 defeat in Nigeria.
Featured photo courtesy of Carlo Fumagalli/AP Photo