The appointment of legendary soccer star James Salinsa Debbah as Lone Star head coach seems to have reignited the spirit of the game among Liberians, especially after the Lone Star’s sterling 1-0 victory over the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia in Monrovia, and their 3-1 return leg away victory over Guinea Bissau, in the Gabon 2017 African Nations Cup Group Stage qualifier and the Russia 2018 World Cup preliminary qualifier 2018 respectively.
Joining the clamor for support to the Lone Star, Liberty Party political leader Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine says coach Debbah’s recent performance shows that Liberia doesn’t necessarily need a foreign coach to upgrade the national football team.
Making the disclosure recently to Capitol FM, Cllr Brumskine said Debbah has shown that he can perform beyond expectation, and he has done so well so far. “With the necessary support James Salinsa Debbah will take the national team to a higher place,” he intoned.
Commenting further, the Liberty Party front man observed that football is one thing that brings all Liberians together. “It’s almost like a unifying force,” Brumskine noted, adding, “Musa Bility, President of LFA, James Salinsa Debbah, as well as Youth and Sports Minister Eugene Nagbe, are doing so well with our National Team. The least someone like me can do will be to go and cheer our team on and wish all of us victory. And I assure you the two times I was there, we won. Unfortunately, with the Cote d’Ivoire game, I was somewhere else and didn’t go. Maybe that’s why we didn’t win.”
Meanwhile, Liberian Football Association president Musa Bility’s administration of football has not gone unnoticed. According to Cllr. Brumskine, Mr. Bility has shown that one does not need to be a football player to be president of LFA.
“What LFA needs is a good businessman who can make the game profitable so that government will not be burdened with having to carry the financial weight of the team all the way. The way Bility is running the team now, it is carrying most of its financial weight by itself. We are learning a lot from Musa and Debbah that my administration will take into consideration when it comes to the development of sports in Liberia,” Brumskine noted.
Sports, Brumskine said, will be an essential part of education, social and health programs in Liberia. “Sporting activities under a Liberty Party administration will be an integral part of after-school programs. It will help our children, the young people, to learn to play the game professionally; it will help them to socialize among themselves, while learning and participating in the game. And it will also keep them healthy and fit. So we can never rule out sports, and I believe more attention should be given to sports on a national level,” he promised.
Given the high level of euphoria and enthusiasm among Lone Star fans in the wake of the team’s recent sterling showing, what remains to be seen is whether Liberians will keep up the momentum of support even if the team performs dismally.
But LFA Vice President for Operations Cassell Kuoh remains upbeat that the general populace will remain engaged with the Lone Star even when the chips are down. “You saw our home game against the Elephants of La Cote d’Ivoire. Even though we were defeated, our fans and supporters behaved properly. It’s because we put a lot of time, energy and resources into pre-match mobilization and non-violence sensitization campaigns. It worked well,” Kuoh said.
Lone Star kept their African Nations Cup chances alive when they flogged Tunisia 1-0 in Monrovia last year. However, the Liberia national senior football team hope of representing Africa in Russia for the World Cup was dashed when they were eliminated in La Cote d’Ivoire last year. How Coach James Debbah, LFA president Musa Bility and Youth and Sports Minister Eugene Nagbe rally Liberians around the team to ensure victory while keeping the momentum kindled is the biggest challenge football will face in the coming months.