The senior national team of Liberia, Lone Star secured a very shaky 1-1 draw against Guinea Bissau yesterday at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) in the first match of a two-legged World Cup 2018 preliminary match.
Spanish second division outfit, SD Ponferradina striker, William Jebor rattled the net from the penalty spot after Malaysia Super League outfit, Sarawak FA versatile player, Patrick Gehardt was upended.
Jebor placed the ball in the left corner of the Guinean goaltender in the 35th minute to put the red, white and blue outfit ahead.
Prior to the goal by Jebor, there were several disconnections between Jebor and Francis ‘Grandpa’ Doe who were playing in the striking positions of the Lone Star.
In the 24th minute, Doe had a clear ball to connect Jebor, but the Tunisian conqueror instead decided to score as the ball went wide over the woodwork.
Zah Krangar twice connected Doe for goal, but the Malaysia-based player missed as the red, white and blue settled for a 1-0 lead for the first half of the match.
Back from recess, Lone Star mounted an early pressure, but with no playmaker, the likes of Doe and Jebor lacked service upfront as the visitors took control of the match.
The Lone Star’s plan to attack their visitors looked to be shaky with the visitors in total control in the second half.
Coach James Salinsa Debbah made three second half substitutions, but only the local lad, Murphy Oscar Dorley who went in for Anthony Laffor made an impact in the match.
Player Dorley made some great penetrating passes, but the visitors stood very tall.
Sweden based Dioh Williams who went in the match for Zah Krangar and Marcus Macaulay from Jordan who was introduced for Patrick Gehardt in the second half were major flops as Lone Star played poorly in the second half.
However the visitors scored a vital away goal in the 63rd minute through Malado Reld Anido, who headed home after the Liberian goalkeeper failed to deal with an easy long-range effort.
The mistake ensured the first ever official meeting between the two nations ended 1-1.
It leaves the tie evenly poised going into next Tuesday’s second leg in Bissau, with the aggregate winners set to face current Africa Cup of Nations holders Ivory Coast .
Portuguese coach Paulo Torres is in charge of Guinea-Bissau for both legs of the tie despite a four-match ban for “offensive language and insults toward the referee” in Zambia four months ago.
However, the suspension applies to Cup of Nations qualifiers, but not World Cup eliminators.
The 13 winners of the two-legged preliminary round ties advance to the second round, where they will be joined by the 27 seeded countries.
The teams have already been drawn into ties, which will be played on a home-and-away basis. The 20 winners advance to the group phase, where they will be drawn into five pools of four teams each, with the group winners advancing to the finals in Russia.
The Lone Stars faced Tunisia, ranked 33rd in the world, in early September in their second AFCON qualifier and their fans in the Antoinette Tubman Stadium in Monrovia could not believe the change in their side. Not overwhelmed by their much higher-ranked opponents, the Lone Star took the game to Tunisia and was rewarded 11 minutes from the end when Malaysian-based Francis Grandpa Doe headed home to give his side the 1-0 victory, which keeps their hopes of qualifying for Gabon 2017 alive.
The victory against Tunisia saw Liberia moved to an astonishing 65th place to 95th in the world the record being their best position since April 2003, when they were ranked 94th.
But yesterday against a lowly ranked in FIFA ranking, Guinea Bissau, fans of the Lone Star were seen frustrated leaving the ATS blaming goalkeeper Saylee Swen for the draw. Details of the match and player rankings in our subsequent edition.