Monrovia – Liberia head coach James Salinsa Debbah has formally announced that Francis Grandpa Doe will be recalled for a crucial 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier with Togo on June 3.
Doe last played for Liberia in a 1-1 draw with Guinea Bissau in a 2018 World Cup qualifier at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) on October 8, 2015 despite a training ground burst-up with Barbu Kollie of Nimba United and Debbah respectively.
But Doe was told to leave camp as the team was about to leave for Bissau to honor the second leg.
After series of public apologies on Facebook, Doe did deliver a special message on UNMIL Radio’s Sports Extra program in November 2015.
“….This message is all about my attitude when I was on national duty. I want to apologize to the national team coach James Salinsa Debbah, his deputy Kelvin Sebwe, the coaching staff and my teammates.
“I am deeply sorry for my attitude when I was last called to national duty. And to all football fans in Liberia, I am very sorry. I want all those listening to this to please forgive and be able to appeal to the technical staff to that they will be able to call me,” Doe told Martina Brooks in an interview from Malaysia.
Debbah and crew may have been pondering over the hard decision to continuously exclude Doe, who has seven international goals, as Liberia plot Togo’s downfall.
“All hands on deck!!! I am going to call-up all our best players. Grandpa Doe included! He has sincerely apologized to his team-mates as well as every member of the technical staff including me, and most importantly, the Liberian people who has facilitated the progress of the national team (Lone Star) by paying their taxes,” Debbah posted on Facebook.
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During his playing days, Debbah was expelled on at least three occasions for breaking camp rules.
In his last international match—a 2006 World Cup qualifier with Togo, which ended 0-0 at the Samuel Kanyon Doe sports complex in Paynesville on July 5, 2004, captain Debbah refused to leave the pitch when Coach Kadala Kromah tried to substitute him for tactical reasons.
Debbah stayed on for about 15 minutes before he finally agreed to be replaced by Isaac Tondo in the 68th minute. Kromah was upset by Debbah’s refusal to leave the pitch, which he said altered his game plan.
“It was bad for us. The entire team was affected psychologically. If he had come out when we called him, we would have had ample time to reconsolidate,” Kromah told BBC Sport. John Menyongai, who played the entire match, shared Kromah’s views.
“Debbah is the oldest and most respected player on this team and as a leader what he did was wrong. Most of the younger players look up to him and this sort of attitude was not just right for the team and our game,” said John.
Although Debbah admitted that he allowed his emotion to get a bit of him, he said he felt disrespected.
“As a professional, I should not have done that but again if you judge me from this game it’s not fair. They should look back at what I have done for Liberia and my voluntary return, they should be grateful and treat me with respect.
“I have no regret. The fact is that the mistakes came from the technical staff who did not formulate the system that we played. It simply did not work,” Debbah said.
Doe was expelled by coaches Bertalan Bicskei (deceased) and Kaetu Smith for indiscipline before Debbah made it a hat-trick of expulsion on international duty.
But it appears this will be Doe’s last chance because he will sign a behavioral bond.
“I must acknowledge the acceptance from football fans around the country as well as the pundits for the recall of Grandpa Doe back to the squad. “
“I believe everyone deserves a second chance, but I hope this time around Mr. Doe and I will be on the same path-to build a discipline and competitive team that will promote the image of the country positively.
“Upon arrival in Liberia and before he wears the red, white and blue jersey, Mr. Doe will definitely have to sign a ‘DISCIPLINE CONTRACT’ which will entail that whenever a re-occurrence of lapses in decorum on his part will mean terminal exclusion from the national team. (The Lone Star),” Debbah concluded on Facebook recently.
Doe plays for Felda United in the Malaysian Super League and has seven goals after eight games.
He scored 17 goals in 25 matches to win last season’s golden boot with NS Matrix in Malaysia’s Premier League. It was his second golden boot.
Danesius Marteh, email@example.com