By Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
First, let me admittedly say that I was among those who had misgivings that the game between Liberia and Tunisia could not have taken place last Saturday at the Antoinette Tubman stadium because of the inclement weather. The raining that started in the morning continued few hours to the game and as such, there was concern that the match could not take place.
Unbelievably, despite the torrential down pour of rain, there was a show of nationalism as Liberians began gathering at the stadium under the rain to cheer the national team, THELONE STAR to victory. Clad in clothes, depicting the national colors- Red, White and Blue young people, drenched by the rain, braved the weather by singing, dancing outside and inside of the stadium.
I take this as an issue because since I started watching Lone Star games in this country, except one in Ghana because of the crisis at the time; this was my first time seeing such a show of love for one’s country under such a condition. In all fairness, it was unprecedented to see people in such a mood for the love of one’s country.
In all sincerity, from what I saw Saturday, if we can extend this to other aspect of development, there will be no room for deceit, sycophancy, hypocrisy and corruption.
Back to the issue at bar, besides the euphoria by Liberians, there was high expectation that the national team would emerge victorious. And so Liberians kept cheering and jubilating until the dying minutes of the game, when the team through one of its midfielders, Grandpa Doe, who is based in Malaysia, scored, thus bringing about a deafening applause as the fans went wild cheering and jubilating.
Apart from the cheering and jubilation on the part of the fans, the team itself lived up to expectation from their performance, especially Anthony Snorti (God’s Time) Laffor, Grandpa Doe, Teah Dennis, and Solomon Grimes, who really won my admiration for containing their tall opponents, both in the air and ground, thereby frustrating the efforts of the Tunisians to penetrate the Lone Star’s defense.
Frankly, when I saw the heights of some of our defenders, I found myself in a state of fear because of the tallness of the Tunisian players. But when the show started and the way Grimes and others, despite their heights were containing those tall players, I began to regain hope, that there was no need to panic as the “short man will contain the tall man.”
Sports analysts say that Saturday’s result, which this paper took seriously by dedicating its Friday’s back and editorial pages to the team, now put the national team in serious contention to being qualified for the nation’s cup in January 2017, a year this country will be holding the historic election for a new President and Representatives.
While recognizing the show of nationalism by Liberians, it is equally important to point that there should be no time for complacency because the team is now in contention. The FA, headed by my junior brother, Musa Hassan Bility, and others should continue to monitor these foreign-based players to ensure their presence in these games. Indeed, the selection was excellent, as the team took control of the game from start to finish. There might be time for changes, notwithstanding, those concerned with this, must ensure that those changes will bring the necessary results.
More importantly, the government must ensure that the game is SUPPORTED. In fact, a victory for the team is good public relations for the government. The fact that Lone Star defeated Tunisia, which in sports has a higher ranking than the Lone Star, is positive news for the country. The two teams have played nine games: Tunisia won four; Lone star three, with two draws.
Predictably, I can say that in the return match, with the same team, by the grace of God, Lone star would have earned four victories, equal to Tunisia.
Although the President was not there as usual, she, too, is happy over this result. And so to continue this way, let the team get all financial and other support need for the FLAG to continue flying high. I’m aware that Cellcom is supporting the team, but the government has a greater responsibility to do more.
Until we realize that football and other sporting activities are important and must therefore be supported, I REST MY CASE.