Monrovia - Montserrado are through to the grand-final of the 2016/2017 national county sports meet.
They beat Margibi 5-3 on post-match penalties after a goalless draw during regulation and extra time at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) on Tuesday.
It was not a match with the usual intensity we all expected with fewer chances in between.
Both teams looked to have endured the wrath of an extended break and marathon nature of this year’s tournament.
Captain Harrison Nah scored Montserrado’s first penalty while Alex Bedell missed Margibi’s first kick, which they never recovered from.
Musa Kebbeh, Emmanuel Reyah, Edward Ledium and Joseph Zayzay scored for Montserrado County.
After Bedell’s missed kick, the rest of three teammates scored their respective kicks but it was too late for them.
Montserrado, headed by captain Nah, really misused all of their scoring chances especially in the first half.
The winning side started the pressure on the defense of Margibi in the first minute and she got her first corner kick in the second minute.
Striker Kebbeh came close to scoring the match opening goal in the 11th minute but his shot travelled over the cross bar.
The losing side made the first attempt against Montserrado in the ninth minute during which time Aaron Hallie shot went off target.
Margibi County captain Elijah Kamara was yellow-carded in the 13th minute for a foul he played against one of his opponents.
Michael Dennis header from a cornerkick in the 21st minute almost resulted into Montserrado goal but goalkeeper Lawrence Quaye, who is considered as the savior of Margibi during the 90 minute and extra time play denied him from scoring.
Korboh of Margibi made a powerful move in the defense of Montserrado in the 28th minute and the opponent’s goalkeeper Vinah Smith denied him from accomplishing his aim.
Striker Lewis Yarkpah of the winning side misused a scoring chance he got in the 37th minute through a defensive blunder.
Andrew Dawolo of Montserrado was yellow carded in the 40th minute after he was booked for a foul he played against an opponent.
Both side started the second half with hope of having the advantage but it was Margibi who really have the majority of the scoring chances but they also failed to at least put into use one of those chances.
Hallie should have put his side in the driver’s seat in the 64th minute from a perfect crossed pass he received from his opponent but slowly kicked the ball in the goalkeeper’s hand.
The two teams failed to score against each other in both halves of the game up to the extra 30 minute.
In basketball, Montserrado, Nimba and Sinoe are through to the semi-finals. Montserrado and Nimba are the only counties to be represented in all disciplines.
It is the first time Montserrado has all teams in the semi-finals since basketball and volleyball were introduced more than four year ago.
In basketball, Montserrado defeated Grand Kru by 65 to 43 points at the Sports Commission on January 8 to join Nimba as winners in Group A.
Inspired by Boakai Golafale, Nimba came from 13 points down to beat Grand Cape Mount by 59 to 57 points in the first match.
Sinoe, led by entertaining Jerry Willie, whipped defending champions Grand Bassa and Grand Gedeh to top Group B.
But Grand Bassa can qualify if they beat Grand Gedeh, who also need to win to qualify for the last four.
In the volleyball, Nimba defeated Montserrado by 50 to 39 points on January 7 in the early kick-off while Grand Kru received free 50 points after River Gee failed to show-up.
Grand Bassa beat Sinoe by 50-34 points in the day’s opening match and Grand Cape Mount dumped Bomi by 50 to 37 points on January 6.
The curtains are slowly drawing down on the 2016/2017 national county sports meet with what some say is the losers’ final while others call it the third place play-offs.
In kickball, Montserrado will meet Grand Bassa at 2:00PM and Nimba will take on Margibi in football at 4:00PM at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) in Monrovia on January 13.
It will be a bitter-sweet memory because Nimba defeated Margibi to win the 2011 finals while Margibi got revenge in the 2012 finals at the Samuel Kanyon Doe sports complex.
Sunday’s grand-finale will see Nimba meet Margibi in kickball at 2:00PM and Montserrado County take on Maryland at 4:00PM in football at the ATS.
Montserrado, who were beaten in the finals of 1956, 1969, 2013 and 2016, have never won the trophy while Maryland’s only silverware came in 1956.
So, it will be more than pride at stake but records also as Maryland are in their first final since it won the inaugural edition while Montserrado will be aiming for their first trophy after four failed attempts.
Meanwhile, Nimba kickball head coach Ezekiel Doekpa said the Mountaineers are more than determined to defend their title.
Iaveline Corneh raced home three times to inspire her side to an eight to one home-runs win over Montserrado on Tuesday in the semi-final while Margibi reached the final with a 3-2 win over Grand Bassa on Wednesday.
Nimba defeated Margibi in the 2015/2016 edition.
“I respect whoever will be my opponent in the grand finale, but I am sure Nimba will safely defend the title. We have everything to take the trophy to Nimba.”
“ If we meet Margibi, it will be a difficult match, judging from the last encounter. They have a good team and an inspirational coach.
“But I think we are in the driver’s seat. My players are all optimistic. I have a great team made of great players.
They are very committed and have given everything in all the matches we have played,” Doekpa told Insight Sports after the semi-final.
The Mountaineers will rely on Iaveline, Famatta Dean and Benetta Paygar, among others.