Hope Alive – Liberia Will Be in Gabon After Decider Against Tunisia

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Well, I have read and heard all the football “experts” criticizing the work that coach James Salinsa Debbah has done for our national team.

What people keep forgetting about is Debbah’s mandate is to build a national team that could compete with the big boys and he has definitely delivered so far.

From the moment I watched our display in Lomé, Togo on the first day of qualifiers, I knew right then that Debbah was the man to lead the Lone Star to its former glory.

Maybe, it might not be in 2017, but looking at how we play, the caliber of players we have, and the discipline within the team, I see a bright future for our national team.

I do know we are hurt from being forced to a 2-2 draw against Togo. It’s reminiscent of the match against Ghana few years back when we needed only a win at home to qualify for the World Cup which didn’t go as planned. Hopefully, this one will, but how?

Well, it’s very simple, either win or have a scoring draw away to Tunisia in September. It might seem laughable to even suggest we could beat Tunisia away or even draw with them but crazy things have happened in soccer.

Forget about Togo beating Djibouti 10-0. That won’t really count if we draw with Tunisia, at least 1-1. Assuming we draw with Tunisia 1-1 and Togo, as expected, defeat Djibouti, then Liberia, Togo, and Tunisia will be tied at 11 points.

According to the rules of the competition, since those three teams will be tied on points, a mini-table of matches played only between those three teams will be drawn to determine the winner.

So, if that scenario comes into play, these are the results that will stand: Togo 2-1 Liberia; Liberia 1-0 Tunisia; Tunisia 1-0 Togo; Togo 0-0 Tunisia; Liberia 2-2 Togo and Tunisia 1-1 Liberia, assuming we get this result in September.

With the above results, the mini-table will be: Liberia W1-D2-L1-GF5-GA5-GD5-5pts; Togo W1-D2-L1-GF4-GA4-GD0-5pts and Tunisia W1-D2-L1-GF2-GA2-GD0-5pts.

The first of many criteria used will be “greatest number of points” and all three teams will be tied on five points.

Next is “better goal difference” and all teams will be tied on a zero goal difference.

Next is “greater number of goals”. This will qualify us due to the fact that we will have five goals while Togo and Tunisia will have four and two goals respectively.

Based on the mini-table and according to the competition’s rule, Liberia will qualify based on the greater number of goals scored.

However, a 0-0 draw against Tunisia will allow Togo to qualify if they defeat Djibouti.

So, as you can see, our qualification is still in our hands. It’s about time we unite behind the Liberia Football Association (LFA), our hard-working coaches, and our dedicated players to see us through to Gabon.

Paul Armah Konneh, III, [email protected]

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