Just two weeks before the Zimbabwe-Liberia 2012 Africa Cup of Nations football qualifier at the National Sports Stadium, trouble is brewing in the West African camp.
The Lone Star, as Liberia are affectionately known, have already been forced to make changes to their technical team following the death of Hungarian coach Bertalan Bisckei last month.
He has been replaced by Italian Roberto Landi, whose last two international friendly matches have been goalless draws against Niger and Angola, much to the dissatisfaction of the team’s supporters.
Liberians believe despite being the anchors in Group A with four points, one behind Zimbabwe, they still have a chance to qualify for the 2012 finals if they beat the Warriors and Mali in October.
But the media there, according to the authoritative liberiansoccer.com, reports few salient issues based on selection for the senior national team are haunting the followers of the game in a country where former African Footballer of the Year, George Weah, is the biggest known football name.
The site reports: “With the coming of the new Lone Star Coach Roberto Landi, it seems the merry-go-round stereotype selection continues as no one really cares to know the criteria used for player selection.
“But while the Lone Star faithfuls are keen on the team performing a football miracle, one major concern is the virtual isolation of the country’s Asia-based players who, besides the diminutive playmaker Zah Rahan Krangar, have been kept out of the team despite their equally prodigious talents.
It seems what one plays is being ignored with where one plays taking paramountcy in this part of the world, as the current handlers of the team insist on where one plays irrespective of their form.
“From all indication, the country’s football authorities believe that the best way to select players is to get them based on the leagues they play in rather than what they play, something that is believed is one of the major reasons the Lone Star continue to struggle at the moment.
“In the modern game, players’ contribution to their teams’ success irrespective of where they play, must be the cardinal tool for selection.”
The observes lamented stars such as Edward Junior Wilson, alias “the Liberian Adriano”, who plays for Indonesian club Seman Padang and netted 16 goals in 26 games last season, and John Tarkpoh Sonkailey, “the long range specialist” who made history by leading Mighty Blue Angels to become the only second division squad ever to win the Liberia Football Association Knock-Out crown in 2003 had being left out of the team as well.
Stephen Mennoh, gritty Patrick Granue, industrious all-rounder Boikai Foday, the Vietnam-based robust defender Alex Karmo, who like Mennoh were members of the Lone Star under Bicskei, have all been ignored.
For the Warriors, without such problems ahead of the match, it is game advantage and three points for the taking.