Monrovia - There were eight players from Barrack Young Controllers (BYC), who featured in Liberia’s 0-1 defeat to Kenya in a FIFA-approved international friendly at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi on November 15.
Greece-based Paul Were of Acharnaikos scored a 52nd minute goal to continue Kenya’s unbeaten run in eight games in friendlies and Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers.
But it was the BYC players—Karleo Anderson, Hilton Varney, Prince Jetoh, Kemoh Kamara, Sporo Somah, David Tweh, Mark Paye and Van Dave Harmon that dominated the build-up to the match.
Sylvanus Morris of BYC was also selected but didn’t feature.
This could be due in part to Liberia head coach James Salinsa Debbah’s friendship with BYC chief executive officer Robert Alvin Sirleaf under whose reportedly influence he was appointed as board member at the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA).
BYC will represent Liberia in the 2017 CAF Champions League, having won the 2016 Liberia Football Association (LFA) first division championship.
During his playing days, Debbah was controversial at best and problematic at worst and it appears those attributes have followed him to the dugout.
Since his appointment in November 2014, Debbah’s tenure have been marred by selecting unwanted players and family member to allegations of slicing players’ perdiems and from verbal exchanges with players to a condemnation of the league and insults meted fans.
Fresh from his coaching familiarization visit with Leicester City in England, Debbah nullified the selection of local players recruited by U-23 head Coach Thomas Kojo and selected almost the first-team of BYC.
Former Manchester City striker Alex Nimely and Spain-based Boison Wynney de Souza were called-up by Debbah but watched from the bench.
Nimely was pursued in 2008 by German coach Antoine Hey, who invited him for the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, but he refused on grounds of a lack of insurance.
He was invited by Coach Kaetu Smith during the 2013 Afcon qualifiers but didn’t honor the invitation.
When Debbah first invited him in June 2015 for the 2017 Afcon qualifiers, Nimely said he needed permission from his father because he was out of contract.
So, it is not clear whether Nimely, who plays for FC Viitorul Constanta in the Romanian Liga I, has been insured or got the thumbs-up from his father.
Nimely, who has Liberian parents, was adopted by an Englishman and played for England during the 2009 under-20 World Cup in Egypt.
It is also not clear whether Liberia got permission from football’s world governing body—FIFA to allow Nimely switch allegiance.
Souza, who was born in Spain on December 27, 1996, was impressive in training but Debbah stuck with LISCR FC goalie Tommy Songo.
The 19-year-old, who serves as CE Europa FC’s first choice goalkeeper in Spain’s Tercera Division (fourth division), was seen as a solution to Liberia’s goalkeeping problem.
United States-based Joel Johnson Alajarin, who plays for Charlotte Independence in the United Soccer League as a right back, didn’t honor the invitation.
Joel, who was born in Torrent, Valencia to a Liberian father and a Spanish mother, played for Valencia and Real Madrid’s youth teams.
Morocco-based William Jebor of Wydad Athletic Club was also absent but South Africa-based Anthony Snothi Laffor of Mamelodi Sundowns and Lithuania-based Oscar Murphy Dorley of FK Trakai featured.
Liberia had the first chance when Laffor’s shot from a tight angle was picked by Boniface Oluoch.
But the hosts reacted swiftly with scores of chances and Songo stood-up to their onslaught.
Laffor had a good chance to restore parity in the 71st minute when put through but blasted wide in a one-on-one situation.
LISCR FC defensive midfielder Saah Nyumah and Dorley were impressive in midfield against midfielder Victor Wanyama of Tottenham Hotspurs in England.
Liberia used the match to prepare for the 2019 Afcon qualifiers while Kenya are also preparing for the 2018 Chan Nations Cup for local players and 2019 Afcon qualifiers.
Coach Stanley Okumbi is also out to assemble a formidable team which can be a force to reckon with ahead of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
Kenya beat DR Congo 1-0 in Kinshasa on October 4 with a goal from Sweden-based striker Michael Olunga.
Eric Johanna scored a 16th minute goal as Kenya beat Mozambique 1-0 on Saturday in Nairobi.
Liberia’s only meetings with Kenya were during the 1990 World Cup qualifiers.
They drew the first leg 0-0 on January 21, 1989 in Monrovia and lost 1-0 in Nairobi on August 11, 1989.
Liberia: 16-Tommy Songo (GK), 18-Anthony Laffor, 19-Karleo Anderson, 21-Hilton Varney (6-Carlos Williams 86’), 3-Prince Jetoh, 13-Dominic Doe (5-Kemoh Kamara 59’), 7-Saah Nyumah, 8-Sporo Somah (10-Fallah Sheriff 54’), 14-Murphy Dorley (22-David Tweh 76’), 15-Mark Paye, 20-Van Dave Harmon (17-Terrence Tisdell 68’)
Unused substitutes: 23-Boison Deosouza, 11. Alex Nimely.