Liberia coach bullish ahead of Warriors Encounter

LIBERIA national soccer team coach, James Debbah, believes the Lone Stars can overcome the Warriors in their own backyard when the two sides clash in the opening match of the 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifier at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.

By Tafadzwa Ndiraire

The Lone Stars of Liberia  will be missing several key players including skipper William Jebor and strike partner Alex Nimely, the young brother of Sylvanus who is based in Russia.

The two sides clash in the opening match of the Group G 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifier at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.

Although both sides will be without some of their key players, with the Warriors missing star forward Khama Billiat, it is the Lone Stars who appears the most affected with four key players unavailable due to varying reasons.

Jebor, who plays his club football in Morrocco, turning out for Wydad Casablanca lost his mother and will not play a part in the match against Zimbabwe.

He is the leading top goal scorer according to his coach and has helped his side to the top of the log with 66 points from 29 matches with Difao El Jadida trailing on 59 points.

Nimely who plays for Norwegian side Stabaek, is a former England Under-20 international called to play for Liberia last year having played for Manchester where he stayed for six years and featured in one premier league game.

Also out of the clash is winger Antony Laffour who plays for South African Premiership side Mamelodi Sundowns. Like Billiat, also missed the last champions league tie against Esperance of Tunisia.

But, the Liberian gaffer, who touched down at the Harare international air port on Thursday with his charges believes he has got capable replacements that can deliver.

“We have four players including the captain Jebor who are out. Jebor lost his mother while others are injured. But we have got equally good replacements that can do the job. I watched Zimbabwe playing at the African Cup of Nations in January. They have got a few good players especially the one who was wearing number 20 (Khama Billiat) who plays in South Africa. But we are ready for the task,” he said.

Debbah can look up to among other players, Sylvanus who plays for Spartak Moscow in Russia. He can also call up Varney Kallen of Kiatamba who plays his club football in India and Boison Wynney de Souza, who plays in Spanish Segunda Division B, league. Another star Dirkir Glay, who plays in Romania is also available for selection.

Zimbabwe will start the match as heavy favourites, having dominated their opponents in their only two meetings in 20o1, in the Afcon qualifiers.

The two teams have met twice with Zimbabwe forcing a 1-1 draw in Monrovia courtesy of Knowledge Musona who scored his first goal for the national team.

The Warriors then won the reverse fixture comfortably by 3-0 at the National Sports Stadium.

Meanwhile, the match will be handled by Uganda referee Alex Muhabi Nsulumbi with Mark Ssonko and Balikoowa Musa Ngobi the first and second assistant referees while Mashood Ssali is the fourth official. Agostinho Basililo Muluta Prata of Angola is the match commissioner.

Tongai Mwenje

Tongai Mwenje is a Senior Editor with Zimbabwe's largest online sports magazine Sportbrief He has been writing professionally since 2012 and currently writes for technology and sport blogs. He has vast experience in digital marketing, sports reporting and analysis. He is also a Sports and Technology columnist with Financial Gazette Online Sports Column and Technology Magazine respectively.

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