Give Libeia’s Coach James Salinsa Debbah A Break


Despite Togo Collapse, Lone Star’s Coach and Team Need Liberia’s Blessing and Support, Not Repeated Rain of Insults

JAMES SALINSA DEBBAH was a homegrown talent who during his prime brought a lot of smiles on the faces of Liberians. His goal-scoring exploits, made him second only to George Weah. His record as the highest scoring footballer for the Liberian National Team still stands with 42 goals in 72 matches.

SO, WHEN THE LIBERIAN FOOTBALL Association tipped the former Mighty Barrolle, Union Doula, AS Monaco, Olympique Ales, OGC NICE, and RSC Anderlecht star to take over as head coach of the Lone Star, many welcome the decision as a gamble, citing Debbah’s disciplinary record as a player among the many challenges likely to keep him from delivering the goods for Liberia and return the team to the glory days during the Samuel Doe era.

WE GUESS IT WILL BE fair to say that Under Debbah, Liberia has scored more goals in African Cup of Nations qualifier than at any other time when foreign coaches were at the helm, that the national team is playing with more cohesion than at any time in recent memory and the players are gelling and responding to Debbah’s style.

THIS IS WHY WE are appalled that Liberians have resulted to raining insults on the coach after a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Togo last weekend.

AFTER 52 MINUTES, Liberia was 2-0 up and many have turned to social media to criticize Debbah’s method of not cementing the midfield and the defense as a key reason for the team’s second half collapse.

WHAT LIBERIANS SHOULD BE more concern about right now is how to rally around the team morally and financially before the final duel against Tunis in Tunis in a few days.

LIBERIA IS STILL recovering from war and trying to put the pieces back together. The national team has been struggling for support and are now living on the backs of the cellular network giant, Cellcom who remains the only source of assistance today.

INSTEAD OF RAINING insults and what-ifs on Coach Debbah and his boys, Liberians must begin to appreciate the level of discipline the team has garnered in recent months.

DEBBAH WAS PART OF BOTH the 1996 and 2002 Liberian 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 armoured 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.

SINCE HIS APPOINTMENT in November 2014, Debbah has worked wonders, taking Liberia back to the days when he was dubbed the “Miracle Maker” and the “Most Celebrated”.

ALL THIS WHEN very little support has come the national team’s way, when the government continues to ignore the fact that football can be a unifying force in the restoration of Liberia and a key contributor to Liberia’s post-war resurgence.

THE FUNDS ALLOCATED to sports in general and football in particular is peanuts compared to what the likes of Ghana, Ivory Coast and other West African power houses get to improve their game.

BUT IT IS NEVER TO LATE. Liberia has a somewhat good scoring record away from home and if anyone is capable of redemption, it is James Salinsa Debbah. Tunisia is no small team but in football anything is possible and anything can happen both at home and away.

WHAT DEBBAH AND THE NATIONAL TEAM needs now is support from Liberians, not a rain of insults and attacks coming their way.

IT IS IMPORTANT FOR LIBERIA to have faith. Win, Lose or Draw, the boys are doing their best. The group of players assemble by Debbah have a bright future and it is only a matter of time before they begin to blossom into world beaters.

IN THE LATE 80’s and for much of the 90s, George Manneh Weah took the world by storm when no one expected and put Liberia on the football map. It has been a long time since Liberia enjoyed good returns from football, but the team is getting there, Let us all help them get up and not put them down, regardless of how things turn out in Tunis.