New Lone Star coach James Debbah has the herculean task of changing the current shape of the Lone Star that is no doubt minnows on the continent and can be counted among the African underdogs. With the red, white and blue outfit ending at the bottom of their group in the last seven qualifiers; world cup and nations’ cup, it is quite a mammoth task to change the fortune of the two times African Nations Cup participants (1996 & 2002) and with the inexperienced cum hurriedly made coach Debbah giving such mantle; the question now is, does he have the tactical nous to handle the Lone Star?
In his playing days, he was no doubt a fabulous talent. From playing days with local side Mighty Barrolle to some notable European clubs including A.S Monaco, Paris Saint Germain, Olympique Lyon, Anderlecht, etc and the senior national team of Liberia the Lone Star, the once “miracle man” “the nation’s most celebrated star and the famous number 10 woo many with his bullish style where he rattled the net greatly.
But, now that he has since left the pitch and has in the past few months been hurriedly brushed in meeting the requirements of a coach with him now a license B holder; Debbah is now at the helm of the Lone Star, something that has brought to the fore mixed reactions in many quarters.
In all fairness, Debbah is a coaching tyro. He has never coached any club which makes connoisseurs worried on what the new coach would do as far as bringing the Lone Star back to winning ways is concerned. Now in “the hot seat”, Debbah seems to lack the passion for the job as the likes of Joe Nagbe and Kelvin Sebwe, fellow ex-internationals who are seen running the show during training. While one may argue that Kelvin and Joe are being given chance, the extent to which they are operating says that all that Debbah is miles behind as far as operating in the dugout is concerned. Though Kelvin is Debbah’s deputy, the role of Nagbe remains unknown with some saying he is an advisor, a position that the FA has no idea about as far as words from multiple sources at the football house are concerned.
To worsen situations, the Lone Star underdog status means the nation needs a well-tested coach order than a beginner like Debbah as such gamble is seemingly not worth taking. Take for instance, the famous “Weah XI” of which Debbah was an integral member could be coached by even a beginner coach as it was an organized side that was unsung and making in-roads.
The team’s winsome status meant the task of any coach was easier as the players were in-form, up to the task and the team was yielding the much needed results. Thus, the coaching pair of Dominic Vava George and Frank Jericho Nagbe had virtually little work to do with the influential George Manneh Weah as Technical Director.
Also, almost any player could have arguably been allowed into the squad and could cope as said player would have had the rightful guidance. It can be recalled that the likes of George Miller, Nestor Sandi, Robert Teah, all at one point especially against the likes of Nigeria and South Africa made a somewhat lasting impression. A top notched or highly vintage side is easily coached than a side that is of the opposite.
Therefore, this current Lone Star squad that continues to struggle needs a coach who had been tried, tested and trusted. Someone who has gone through the ranks, someone who has the tactical nous, the tactical panacea, the tactical awareness, alertness and experience in transforming the team should have been employed.
But, with Debbah having no prior coaching experience being giving the task to handle a below par outfit, Debbah’s lack of tactical nous will be visible and will hamper the team and as usual the team will struggle. Debbah certainly does not have the tactical nous and as one administrator noted, “Debbah should have been given the chance or encouraged to coach one of our local clubs where he would have learned a lot, by going through the tension of coaching, but to just jump to the senior team that is not even strong nowadays, I am worried for him”.
Making key decisions like the selection and blending of players, tactics, substitutions, moulding of players, all in being stable in “the hot seat” will be testing moments for the former “miracle man” as far as having the tactical nous is concerned.