Debbah Has Come Of Age: Liberia Must Rally, Unify Around Coach, Team
AS A PLAYER, James Salinsa Debbah was not the most disciplined but Liberia could always count on him to deliver the goods.
IN HIS PRIME, Debbah and his compatriots George Weah, Kelvin Sebwe, Jonathan Sogbie, Joe Armstrong Nagbe, James Bodywork Karrow, Washington Blay and others elevated the game and put Liberia on the world map.
DEBBAH WAS PART of both the 1996 and 2002 national football squads in the African Cup of Nations. During a July 2004 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Togo in Monrovia, Debbah, as captain, refused to be substituted in the 53rd minute, instead waiting until the 68th minute to leave the pitch. The match resulted in a 0–0 draw, causing the team to leave the stadium under the protection of an armored personnel carrier. Liberia finished in last place in their group during qualification, with only 4 points after 10 matches. The draw with Togo was their only draw during the qualification.
IRONICALLY, DEBBAH is today at the helm and in a major position to resurrect Liberia’s football image, living up to his pledge to build a disciplined side and a no-nonsense approach. “We intend to use a more professional approach to instill discipline in the team and everybody will have to follow my instructions,” he told the BBC shortly after his appointment. “In other words, it’s going to be my way or no way at all.”
DEBBAH HAS LIVED up to the hype and is performing at a level far exceeding the record of most foreign coaches brought on to restore pride to our national colors.
SINCE HIS APPOINTMENT as head coach of the national team in November 2014, the man once dubbed the most celebrated player has been impressive, leading the team to crucial victories against Tunisia and building an impressive away game winning percentage.
NOT BAD FOR THE man who as a player plied his trade in France for Monaco, Lyon, Nice and PSG as well as in Belgium with Anderlecht before retiring in 2004 with Al-Jazira in Abu Dhabi.
NOT BAD FOR A MAN who’s only coaching role was with the club which brought him to prominence, Mighty Barrolle.
TUESDAY’S IMPRESSIVE 5-0 DRUBBING of Djibouti was no doubt the most lopsided victory in recent years and took Liberia to the top of Group B of the CAF qualifier with 9 points and in pole position for a possible qualification for the CAF finals in Gabon in 2017.
DEBBAH AND THE NATIONAL team has done Liberia proud and deserves all of our support. The National government must now stand up to the plate and ensure that the team is bolstered financially and morally to bring more important results to Liberia.
FOOTBALL IS A UNIFYING force that can unite any nation. It can take away the pains of those lingering in poverty and bring shared joy to the rich, poor, downtrodden and neglected.
FOOTBALL CAN unite a nation emerging out of war and on the rebound toward economic resurgence. Interestingly, the African Cup of Nations is happening in 2017, the same year Liberians head to the polls in general and presidential elections. A trip to Gabon for the African Nations Cup could mark the perfect occasion for Liberia’s return to the international game and to winning ways. The Cellular network, Cellcom has done its part to help in the process. Now it is time for the government and all Liberians to rally around Coach Debbah and the Lone Star to ensure that they score victories in the remaining matches against Togo and Tunisia.
THIS WOULD MARK A remarkable achievement for a team left for dead; but now within striking distance and on the verge of accomplishing what many thought was an impossible feat.