Where Did It All Go Wrong For Liberian Clubs Continental Participation?
Monrovia – It is the same story of poor preparation and planning under a new administration led by Musa Hassan Bility that continues to hamper Liberian football with bad results.
Report by Danesius Marteh, [email protected]
Monrovia Club Breweries Football Club have failed to plan and planned to fail as they were eliminated from the CAF Confederation Cup preliminary round on February 19.
Algeria’s Jeunesse Sportive de Kabylie (JSK) staged a miraculous comeback to beat Breweries 4-0 in Tizi Ouezi and qualified 4-3 on aggregate at the Stade Du 1er Novembre.
Mohamed El Hadi Boulaouidet converted a 23rd minute penalty that was contested but center referee Nasrallah Jaouadi was convinced about the infringement.
Koceila Berchiche made it two-zero from another set piece when Bilal Mebarki rolled the ball to a teammate from a corner kick and received a back pass before dribbling two defenders inside the six-yard box to unleash a loosed ball for Berchiche.
From the moment, Breweries were tactically exposed and mentally unsettled and the cold weather, couple with the 19-hour flight, added made bad matter worst.
And the Algerians knew their qualification was minutes away going for break.
They made five changes to the squad that lost the first leg as Paul Thomas Izerghouf, Sofiane Khelili, Malik Asselah, Mohammed Abdelali and Bilal Tizi Bouali were either relegated to the bench or overlooked.
Back from recess, Boulaouidet leveled the aggregate score in the 62nd minute when he was teed-up unmarked in the six yard box against the run of play.
And Mebarki sealed one of the historic comebacks in the tournament 20 minutes from time with a sumptuous volley that caught goalie Abdulai Koulibaly unaware.
Breweries had the brightest of chances, having won the first leg 3-0 at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) on February 10 in Monrovia.
Head coach Francis Sarploh was optimistic of their qualification but cautiously refused to dwell on mathematical postulations, warning that an early departure was necessary.
Barack Young Controllers (BYC), who had a CAF Champions League preliminary second leg tie with Stade Malien, left Monrovia early February 14 but Breweries left in the afternoon of February 17.
Their journey include, from Monrovia to Accra; from Accra to Istanbul; from Istanbul to Algiers and from Algiers to Tizi Ouzou.
“Oh God, I pray this does not negatively impact my players’ physiological response to the game,” Sarploh wrote on Facebook an hour to departure.
So where did it all go wrong for a team that had the brightest of chances for qualification?
Kelvin Sebwe is the technical director for sports development at the Ministry of Youth & Sports, having made more than 70 appearances for Liberia.
A much-travelled player, Sebwe played for clubs in France, Belgium and the United Arab Emirates.
However, he spent the major part of his career in Greece, where he played for eight different clubs.
And Sebwe told UNMIL Radio’s Sports Extra program that Breweries’ trip to Algeria a disaster in the making.
“That was really wrong. You can’t play professional football and travel the way they did.
Algeria or North Africa has been one of the difficult places to play football as an away team at club or national level, especially when you come from a different weather.
“I was on my way to work on Friday when the team bus passed by me. I knew they were in for a bad result. Why did they go at the time when BYC left much earlier?
I understand it had to finances. The game is such a way that the end result is when the players get on the field.
The game is played from an administrative and technical point of view,” said Sebwe on February 20.
BYC made the most of their early preparation to beat Stade Malien 7-6 on penalties on February 19.
Musa Kone scored a 45th minute goal at the Stade du Mars Vingt Six in Bamako to level the aggregate 1-1.
But BYC won the eventual shootout and will meet Clube Ferroviario da Beira of Mozambique in March.
Captain Van Dave Harmon netted home a kick at 6-6, giving the Go Blue Boys a 7-6 penalty kicks lead.
BYC goalie Allenton Sembeh would save the next ball to seal the victory.
The hosts dominated possession from the start of the game and were denied on many occasions by Sembeh, who put up his best performance of the season, writes BYC communications consultant Christopher Walker.
Knowing that 1-0 defeat could take the game into penalties kicks, Copper Sannah brought in Sporo Somah for Gideon Williams, Sylvanus Morris replaced by Junior Barshall and Abdulai Bility was also introduced late in the second half for David Tweh.
And it paid-off as the winner of the tie was eventually decided on penalties and Sembeh saved three of nine penalties.
BYC are through to the first round for the second time and their target of reaching the group stage is still insight.
Kabylie: 16-Abderahmane Boultif, 5-Ali Rial, captain; 2-Saadi Radouani, 4-Koceila Berchiche, 7-Mehdi Benaldjia (3-Mohammed Lamine Medjkane 78’), 8-Houari Ferhani, 10-Samir Aiboud (19-Adel Djerrar 82’), 11-Mohammed Elhadi Boulaouidet (6-Youcef Zerguine 87’), 18-Bilal Mebarki, 21-Malik Raiah and 23-Mohammed Nassim Yattou.
Unused substitutes: 1-Anouar Saidoun, 15-Karim Batteche, 28-Nasr-Eddine Benabbou and 29-Touhami Sebie.
Breweries: 30-Abdulai Koulibaly, 4-Marvin Blapoh, 5-Adama Swaray, captain; 7-Mitis Mulbah, 10-Benjamin Sackor, 12-Prince Balde, 14-George Onassi Weah (11-Nicholas Andrew, Jr. 29’), 15-Raymond Fanciah, 17-Ramson Gee (18-Blidi Jackson 80’), 21-Theo Nimely (22-Samuel Boe 45’) and 27-Curtis Koon.
Unused substitutes: 1-Daniel Swenwetee, 2-Festus Varane Blapoh, 3-Panton Lumuba, 8-George Jackson and 9-James Boima Konuwah.
Match officials: Nasrallah Jaouadi, center referee; Marwene Saad, assistant referee #1; Mohsen Ben Salem, assistant referee #2 of Morocco.