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After Indonesian Impression
Where next for the trio?

Murphy Nagbe     James Koko Lomell      Zah Rahan Krangar

By Wleh Bedell

 Since the virtuoso performance of the legendary George Weah in Europe especially in 1995 where he conquered world football by becoming FIFA footballer of the year, few Liberian players have tried to step in his big shoes of success left behind with the likes of James Debbah, Joe Nagbe, Chris Wreh, Kelvin Sebwe, Prince Daye and a host of other players from the former Green Coast.

 During such period, the country could brag of its stars plying their trades in the most attractive and glamorous of leagues in Europe, as the players were more competitive at the top flight.

 If Ghana was to put forth Abedi Pele Ayew, Liberia could put forth the accomplished George Weah, and could even call the name James Salinsa Debbah when a country like Nigeria chose to name Efan Ekoku.

 The Italian Serie A, French Championat mainly harbored Liberian players in the past with clubs like AC Milan, AS Monaco, Paris Saint Germain and even Arsenal or Reading of the English Premiership and lower Division respectively enjoying the brilliant flashes of these players.

 Nowadays, however it is a seemingly different and virtually sad story as the countries current generation of stars in the lower of leagues, a complete contrast of the days of the past where the ex-generation of stars made in roads in the bigger leagues of Europe.

 Currently, the not too attractive but a bit respected of leagues in Sweden, Denmark, Romania Cyprus and the United States are the biggest stages for the today’s stars. But while some might frown on the players’ inability to compete at the highest level in European football, they might even become more irritated as a huge chunk of them ply their trade in the modest Indonesian league.

 Statistics indicate that more than 70 players from Liberia are either unattached or attached with various clubs in the First and Premier and Division.

 Since Stephen ‘Goal King’ Weah raised the curtain in playing there in 1994 with Barito Putra Galatama, many Liberians have showed case their talents in the world largest Muslim state. The season there is now over with Liberian players once more showing their finesse in wooing fans there as well as making their respective clubs proud.

 But, a certain threesome in Zah Rahan Krangar, James Koko Lomell and Murphy Komonple Nagbe shined the brightest in that part of the world. The trio impressed at their clubs, thus making clubs to become more desperate in luring Liberian players into their fold.

  Brief description and success story of the trio is as follows:

 Zah Rahan Krangar

 The diminutive forward who is also effective as a midfielder became the Second Liberian after former Invincible Eleven (IE) attacking ace Sam Chebli to win gold or lead a club in winning the championship in Indonesia.

 After Chebli celebrated with Persikota in 2001, the four capped Liberian international did same with club Sriwijaya for the 2007 Utama Division as the premiership there is known. This was the club’s first major title since it was founded in 2004.

      Zah Rahan Krangar (Yellow shirt) FC Sriwijaya - Indonesia

The sublimely gifted 22 year old proved a handful to opposing defenders as his flair, pace, incisive passing and vital finishing made life uneasy for teams especially in the eight teams playoffs. Zah, however, got one better than his senior compatriot Chebli as he led his team to the double, the biggest ever in the club’s history.

 His hunger to doom his country’s jersey was rewarded when he netted a goal on his debut in the Lone Star 1-2 loss to Equatorial Guinea in the 2008 Nations Cup qualifiers. He then had a hand in two of the three goals scored by the Lone Star in their 3-2 win against Rwanda at the ATS in continuation of the same qualifiers.

 And, an impressive pair of performance against Cameroun proved while the prodigy is one for the future. After springing to the lime light when he formed an integral part of the National U-13, U-14 and U-15 that made inroads in the Scandinavian Cup in 1997,’98 and ’99, the then kid dynamite became too hot to handle.

      Zah Rahan Krangar (Yellow shirt) FC Sriwijaya - Indonesia

The youth team regarded as the country’s best youth team ever was under the tutelage of co-coaches Henry Brown and Kaytu Smith and had in its fold other kid turned stars Dulee Johnson, Dioh Williams, George Boe, Sekou Manubah, Natus Ponny and Sehten Hills.

 With his game being greatly developed the always placid chap led his team Ducor Defenders qualify to the Second Division in 1999 and after a couple of seasons there, he fell to the spending spree of then Second Division club Karn United.

 His quest of playing at a more competitive level took him to Cameroon, as he surprisingly joined ranks with Racing De Bafosan in 2003. There, he became the core of a spectacular Liberian threesome with Joseph Pailey and Aloysius Koko Pennie being the other two.

 At the club Zah won the hearts of many compelling the team’s Coach at the time Jules Federic Nyonga to say these words to the Cameroonian tribune:  ”I see Zah as a player who could go all the way in his career”.

 He has a great future ahead of him, and if only he keeps his feet on the ground he would do wonders”       

 And, after four years it seemed the Coach words were beginning to come to reality as Zah formed part of the Lone Star team that lost 3-1 to Cameroun at the Amadou Ahidjo Stadium in March 2007.

 Interestingly, it was coach Nyonga that was at the helm of the Indomitable Lions, and the Coach beamed with smile when his former player Zah came on as a second half substitute. The Sriwijaya menace also had a stint in Switzerland with lowly Juventus as well as in Ghana with Second Division outfit Bujumbura FC.

 Besides his wonders at Sriwujaya, Zah also performed similar acts with Persekabpas where he led them to premiership qualification.

  It is his dream to play in the passionate and exciting English league, but his cry had always being the lack of an agent to make him realize his childhood dream.

 James Koko Lomell

 Like Zah, James Lomell comes from a relatively obscure background and took the global leather as path to breakthrough. He would shed tears when ever his child hood club Children Stars were beaten, and the player who many called “Liberia Koko”, had always believe in his potential and became a joy to watch.

 After the club’s name was changed to Haja FC Lomell led the club to the Third Division and after two seasons, he enabled the club end as runners up behind Zah Krangar’s  Ducor Defenders on the road to the Second Division in 1999.

    James Koko Lomell (R) PSMS Medan - Indonesia

His graceful form made him to be a big fish in the pond of Haja FC and had to move on to the defunct Jr. Professionals, a club owned by the legendary George Weah.  After a season coupled with the dissolution of the club, Koko was spotted by a promoter who took him to South Africa.

 He landed at first Division side Maritzburg FC where he ended as top scorer in 2003, prompting South Africa ’96 Nations Cup winning Coach Clive Barker to describe him as a genius.

  After that season, things turned haywire as the player’s career began to experience a dip after his club’s apparent refusal to let him being transferred to then Premier club manning rangers.

 The saga caused the player misfortunes as he had to return home to re launch his career with LPRC-Oilers where he helped them win the premiership crown in 2005. Then there was a return to South Africa for the current 22 years old as he was said to have joined Mvela Golden league side FC AK.

 And, after few months he surfaced in Indonesia on grounds of appalling condition in the land of the 2010 World Cup. His name then spread in Indonesia like a wide fire in the hamantan after leading his club PSMS Medan wins the governors Cup.

 Such form would follow in the league as he ended as his side top scorer and one of the leading scorers in the 2007 season with a tally of 20 goals, and ending as runners-up and third placers in the league and cup respectively. This feat is regarded as one of the greatest in the club’s 63 years history.

 The midfielder cum striker who creates a screen in front the opponents defense due to his fabulous conjuring skills, crafty acts and clinical finishing has won 14 caps for country since making his debut I 2003 against Guinea’s Syli Nationale at the Accra Sports Stadium in Ghana during the qualifiers of the 2004 Nations Cup.

 Whether he would ever achieve his child hood dream of playing for nine times European champs Real Madrid is something that remains to be seen.

 Murphy Komonple Nagbe

 Regarded as the acrobatic defender in the Indonesian press, the ten caps Liberian international, Murphy Nagbe was the defensive linchpin of the green and white outfit of PSMS Medan. He came to the fore when he styled for fourth Division side Genesis in Gardnersville before moving to Third Division outfit Barcelona.


Murphy Komonple Nagbe (L) PSMS Medan - Indonesia

With the club he tasted success after they qualified to the Second Division in 1998 and the First Division a year later. The burly center back then moved to St. Anthony in the First Division before switching to LISCR FC.

 His consistency in the defensive third made him to win his international debut against Guinea in Conakry in the 2004 Nations Cup qualifiers. The Lone Star lost 3-0 with the starlet being misplaced after being used at an un-preferable wing back position.

 But, a heroic performance in the corresponding fixture coupled with strides against Niger and back to back against Cameroun certainly makes him a tower of strength in central defense for the once formidable Lone Star.

 After rattling the net trice during the just ended liga D’jarum, the 23 years old ruthless center back is no doubt amongst the best players the country can currently boast of.

 Murphy also had a stint in South Africa with Durban star in the First Division before moving to Indonesia where he helped Persekabpas qualify to the Premiership.

    His dream had always being to feature for Italian giants AC Milan, but with the great publicity of the English game, his loyalty or love has since  swayed to Arsenal with its Ivorian defense icon Habib Kolo Toure being a player whose game he cherish.

 Where next? 

With the strides made by the trio, the question now is where next would they move to continue their game?

 This however involves plenty of thoughts and one must first get a hint as to whether they have the means, contact or opportunity in moving to a higher level or the term complacency would get hold of them to remain in Indonesia.

 It is generally believe that it is advisable for a player to move to another level after conquering one region or league or soon complacency would take hold which could cause a dip in form.

 Whether they have the chance or opportunity to move elsewhere, one thing that remains quite picturesque is that the trio is in fantastic form and is capable of replicating such forms in other reputable leagues, and must do everything within their reach either by getting in touch with agents, compatriots with the aid of their clips which could to some extent make them get the ultimate by competing in one fancy area like Eastern Europe or any other.

 The onus is indeed on them to go for the bigger one which could serve as a spur for other great talents in that region like John Tarkpoh Sonkailey, Boakai Foday, Stephen Mennoh, Henry Zobon Gobah, Perry Saah Kollie and others to follow in yearn to be more competitive.