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Lone Star Coach Butler Faces Selection Headache For Striker

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Monrovia – Liberia is set to battle Chad in the 2021 African Cup of Nations preliminary round at the Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex today, Wednesday, October 9.

Lone Star’s head coach James Peter Butler has a full house of 13 professional players invited for the match and some local-based players.

Butler seems to now be facing a serious selection headache with the quality of players in his team and competition for places is now very high.

 The Englishman will have to choose two or one striker from the list of four quality strikers invited for the match.

 Coach Butler, during his first game in charge, deployed a 4-3-3 formation with Alvin Marccornel, Teah Dennis, Joel Johnson and Gasimu Kouyateh in defense while Allen Njie, Murphy Oscar Dorley and Seth Kanteh Hellberg as his three midfielders and he used Kpah Sherman, Sam Johnson and Terence Tisdell as his front three resulting into a 3-1 home victory and lost away 1-0.

Now with the inclusion of current top goal scorer of Liberia, William Jerbo in the squad along Sam Johnson, Kpah Sherman and newcomer Peter Wilson, selecting    the strike force against Chad is even more than a headache for Butler, who is still getting to know the players game in game out.

 William Jerbo

Jerbo, who has been out of active football for up to four months just joined Al-Fujairah of the United Arab Emirates Pro League making three appearances so far without a goal.

The forward has scored 12 goals for the Red, White and Blue in 16 matches since his debut in 2011.

His first international goal came on 14 June 2015, in a 1–2 defeat at Togo and followed it up with a hat-trick against Guinea Bissau in October of 2015 and another hat-trick against Djibouti   

On March 29, 2016, he scored another hat-trick in a CAF 2017 qualification match in Monrovia, between Djibouti and Liberia, becoming the only Liberian senior national football team player to score a hat-trick more than once in an international tournament. As a result, Liberians call him “A True Son of the Soil.” The Striker is also considered by some to be the most important player of the current generation of Liberia footballers.

He is also the captain of the team and second Liberian to be an Africa Footballer of the Year nominee, after George Weah, who won the prestigious award three times.

Sam Jonson

Sam Johnson, who captained the team against Sierra Leone in September of 2019 in the absence of Jerbo, got his name on the scoresheet in the first leg and played a key role in the 1-0 lost away that qualified Liberia to the group stage of the 2O22 World Cup qualifier.

Johnson is considered one of the most respected players of the current team and plies his trade in the Major League Soccer of the United States of America with Real Salt Lake.

Since his move from Norwegian club Valerenga in 2019 to Real Salt Lake, he has scored nine goals from 23 matches.

In the Lone Star’s Red, White and Blue shirt, Johnson, who has 16 caps only manage to score three goals but has been a key player on the pitch under past coaches and even Butler.

It is still not clear if Johnson, who arrived early Tuesday morning for the match on today will maintain the captaincy or his starting position.

Kpah Sherman 

The top goal scorer in the Malaysian league in 2019 with PKNS has played eight times for Liberia but has found it difficult getting goals for the national team.

The striker scored 14 goals in the Malaysian league and five in the cup but has so far only managed 1 goal for the national team.

He started both games for Liberia against Sierra Leone and created the penalty for Terence Tisdell’s goal and was a constant threat to the Leone Stars’ defense by his physical presence something Butler may have been impressed with.

Sherman told FrontPageAfrica that he believes that the goal is just the matter of time for the national team but that he is happy if the team wins and he can contribute than scoring and the team loses or draws.

 Peter Wilson 

The striker, who is expected to make his debut for the national team after finally agreeing to switch allegiance back to Liberia.

Wilson was born in Monrovia but played two friendlies for Sweden under-20, including his debut on 8 October 2016.

The 22-year-old, who turned down previous invitations, agreed to a call-up from Coach Butler and is in the country.

He could make his debut on his 23rd birthday today, 9 October, against Chad at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex at 4 P.M.

Wilson plays for top-tier side GIF Sundsvall in Sweden’s Allsvensken (premier league).

His five-year contract, which was signed on 1 January 2015, ends on December 31, 2019. 

Wilson scored and proved an assist for his club GIF Sundsvall was held to a 4-4 draw at home against Norkopping on Saturday, October 5, 2019.

Butler’s Decision 

With such record from the four strikers, Butler said at one of his press conferences that no player has a position on his team.

He is quoted as saying “Having 50 caps does not guarantee anyone playing time on the national team. Everyone needs to fight for their place.” 

 At the Ministry of Information press conference Tuesday, October 8, ahead of the match, the head coach said he is going for a win against Chad.

He said with the inclusion of few new players, he will not experiment in his team a statement that could be interpreted as he will work with his team that he used against Sierra Leone. 

The big question that now is who will make the starting eleven of Butler?

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