Monrovia - Monrovia Club Breweries beat Algeria’s JS Kabylie 3-0 in a CAF Confederation Cup preliminary first leg at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) on February 10.
Monrovia Breweries, who were made to work for the victory, got the curtain raiser in the 58th minute when goalkeeper Asselah Malek failed to properly clear a corner and Mitis Mulbah was in the right position at the right time to roll the ball in an empty net.
Benjamin Sackor made it two for Breweries when Asselah attempted to dribble him in the 18-yard box but Sackor took advantage of his stupid attempt to send the ATS into rapture.
Sackor added the third in the 90th minute with a sumptuous volley to record one of the biggest wins by a Liberian club in CAF club competitions.
Not many persons would have predicted the margin of victory for Breweries, who were promoted to the first division and won the FA and Super Cups last season, against the most successful football club in Algeria.
Breweries began the match on a promising note when George Weah, (no relations to the retired footballer turned politician) had an easy chance to bury in the third minute when Mulbah’s shot on goal was deflected into his path but Malek tipped his header over the cross bar for a corner.
The Algerians used their physique and height to create several goal-scoring opportunities but Breweries will be grateful to Abdulai Koulibaly on two great occasions.
Koulibaly beautifully denied Adel Djarrar’s 22-yard efforts in the 20th minute as Mohamed Boulaouidet’s resultant shot sailed over the cross bar.
Aiboud Samir came close four minutes later but Koulibaly tipped his shot on the post before it landed in his hands.
Captain Marvin Blapoh had a similar 20-yard placement sent to safety by Malek in an attempt to redeem himself.
For most of the first half, Breweries sat deep, apparently not to concede a goal or to observe their opponents.
Breweries were forced into an early substitution in the 28th minute when George Jackson looked to have picked-up a hamstring injury and was quickly replaced by Nicholas Andrew.
Together with Theo Nimely and Blidi Jackson, their strength and movement stretched a Kabylie side shorn of confidence from a difficult season that has them second from bottom in their domestic league with 17 points from 17 matches (three wins, eight draws and six defeats).
On their debut, Breweries, who are fourth on the table, have joined Invincible Eleven (IE) in the history books with two memorable victories.
Kai Jerbo scored a hat-trick when IE beat Mali’s Stade Malien 3-0 in the 1985 African Cup of Champions Clubs (renamed Champions League) at the ATS in Monrovia.
IE drew the return leg 1-1 but were ejected from the competition for fielding an ineligible player.
The Sunshine Yellow Boys also beat Guinea’s AC Horoya 3-1 in Monrovia but lost 4-0 in Conakry in the 1986 African Cup of Champions Clubs.
FrontPageAfrica was told about a 1989 IE team that included Boye Cooper, Kai Jerbo, Jonathan ‘Boye Charles’ Sogbie, Simon Mattar, Ben Morthy, Edwin Morgan and Jonah Sarwieh among others, who beat Ivory Coast’s Asec Mimosa 3-1 in a CAF championship.
Mohammed Fernando Sithole, a South Africa-born Guinean, was the coach at
the Samuel Kanyon Doe sports complex when Sogbie scored twice and Morthy completed the victory.
The return leg was played in Bouake two weeks later in a hostile terrain and IE lost 2-0.
Writing in a Talk Football chatroom, Momolu V. O. Sirleaf, a former President of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL) said there were reports that Asec had made offers to some players for semi-professional contracts and that Sithole was reportedly aware of the plan to fix the match.
Momolu, however, said those reports were never verified but Sogbie coincidentally later signed a lucrative contract with Asec before going to Europe.
He was a sports reporter with The Mirror Newspaper, almost 28 years ago.
Monrovia Breweries head coach Francis Sarploh won’t be carried away by history and mathematical postulations.
“A football game can’t be calculated on mathematical lines. That it happened before doesn’t mean that it will always happen. So all we need to do is to be cautious, prepared well and get the need results.
“They were very physical and we tried to match them physically but we didn’t want to lose sight of our target. We wanted to get a goal or two at home and we were lucky to get three. So that was good for us,” said Sarploh.
Before the game, Barrack Young Controllers (BYC) wished Breweries well as their players held best-wishes banners on Facebook.
And President Sekou Konneh said Liberians must contribute in cash and kind to take football to another level.
“The perception around that Liberian footballers are not good enough to compete is wrong.
It is about the opportunity being provided to these young people. I want to congratulate Breweries for making us happy today,” said Konneh, who celebrated every goal in the VIP stand along with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Sports Minister Saah Charles N’Tow, Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe and LFA President and vice President Musa Bility and Musa Shannon respectively.
Kabylie coach Sofiene Hidoussi, speaking through an interpreter, admitted that it will be a mountainous encounter to overturn a three goal deficit when they meet on February 19. Hidoussi promised sweeping changes with Malek guilty as charged for the defeat.
Breweries: 30-Abdulai Koulibaly, 4-Marvin Blapoh, captain; 5-Adama Swaray, 7-Mitis Mulbah, 8-George Jackson (11-Nicholas Andrew, Jr. 29’) , 10-Benjamin Sackor, 12-Prince Balde, 14-George O. Weah (18-Blidi Jackson 72’), 15-Raymond Fanciah, 17-Ramson Gee and 27-Curtis Koon (21-Theo Nimely 62’).
Unused substitutes: 1-Daniel Swenwetee, 2-Festus Blapoh, 3-Panton Lumuba and 22-Samuel Boe.
Kabylie: 30-Malik Asselah, 5-Ali Rial, captain; 2-Saadi Radouani, 3-Med Lamine Medjkane, 4-Koceila Berchiche, 6-Youcef Zerguine (9-Paul Thomas Izerghouf 66’), 7-Mehdi Benaldjia, 10-Samir Aiboud, 11-Med Elhadi Boulaouidet, 19-Adel Djerrar and 23-Med Nassim Yattou.
Unused substitutes: 16-Abderrahmane Boultif, 15-Karim Batteche, 22-Med Abdelali, 24-Bilal Tizi Bouali, 25-Sofiane Khelili and 29-Touhami Sebie.
Match officials: Baba Leno, center referee; Abdoulaye Sylla, assistant referee #1; Moustapha Toure, assistant referee #2 and fourth official, from Guinea and match commissioner Worlamyo Agra.