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Lone Star Finally Out

Eziah Benson lead Liberia's early minute fray photo by F. Momolu Dorley

Wleh Bedell
The Liberia National Team the Lone Star failed to put up a heroic performance in remaining in the hunt for a place in the Ghana 2008 Nations cup when they were held by the visiting Nzalang Nacional of Equatorial Guinea at a packed Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS).

In the presence of the president Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Nations pride and joy could only manage a disappointing scoreless draw in a contest that can be virtually described as defense against attack and be summarized in three scenes, heroic defending from the Liberian born Equatorial Guinean defender Lawrence Sokota Doe,an avalanche of misses from the Lone star mainly in Dioh Williams ands Anthony Laffor as well as brave goalkeeping from Sunday Seah.

Employing their 4-4-2 formation the hosts could not punish their Central African opponents as they missed a host of begging chances to the discontentment of their vociferous crowd.

The visitors who were very negative as they operated in a 4-5-1 formation frustrated their opponents, and looked threatening when they got on the front foot.

The Lone Star failed to break the deadlock as early as the third minute when front runner Francis Doe collected a Zah Krangar's defense splitting pass, and then got past an opponent in the box before releasing Anthony Laffor who could not effectively use trhe right technique to rotate the score line.

The Team then went forward as the chances kept coming, but credit must go to goalkeeper Danilo who made several nerve wrecking saves to keep his side in the battle. After the first quarter, Laffor failed to get the ultimate once more as the goalie was to the rescue of his side.

Francis Doe then made an angle run to the left and was used as a dummy by Zah who tee up Dioh, but his hesitance was not good for his side as the towering Lawrence Doe made a giant clearance.

With the La Liga man Rondo isolated upfront, the visitors did plenty of defending as they always had nine men behind the ball in making spaces thight for the opponents. Lomell could not get the necessary freedom in the middle of the park with the Nzalang Nacional

Industrious men, Gptic, Juvenil and Toure getting rid of any potential threat.

The Lone Star generated much pressure from the left flank where Ezeah Benson made rapid overlapping runs up front in providing quality passes, but defender Doe and partner Duniam were always there to make a headed clearance.

After some exchanges, the visitors went alive after Rondo beat the offside wall in the 26th minute, but failed to beat Sunday Seah who saved the player's slotting ball.

The Lone Star then responded with Stephen Mennoh connecting Laffor after Solomon Grimes had given a flick pass. Laffor then settled for Francis Doe who could not get much venom in the shot to trouble the curl legged goalie Danilo.

After five minutes, Ezeah Benson was yellow carded for being too emotional to the referee and then Rondo was yellow carded as well when he fired a shot towards the hosts goal after he had already being caught for offside.

But, the most glaring of chances came in the 45th minute when Laffor after receiving a Zah Krangar's thru ball failed to beat the onrushing goalie on the dege of the box.

Then Rondo nearly caught Sunday at the other end to draw the curtain for the first half.

After the interval, the hosts continued with their predictable long ball game, while the visitors kept piling the middle as they won all aerial balls.

With defense ace Murphy Nagbe having a little to do in terms of defending, the Lone Star probed forward, but were caught on the break. They should however counted themselves lucky for not conceding a goal after Duniam's header hit the woodwork in the 49th minute.

Dioh and Laffor then missed one each before James Koko Lomell who had then raised his game in the second half was substituted for John Tarkpoh Sonkailey.

The latter ignited the game with his side making inroads, but Lawrence Doe and crew would clear every potential threat. After 62 minutes, Tarkpoh gave a flick to Francis Doe after receiving a cross from play mate Benson.

Doe inturn played the ball in the path of Dioh who failed to poked toe the ball close to the six yard box, but instead made pointless touches before finding Laffor who blew away the glorious chance.

Defender Ousman Larmin who entered the match with a knock on the knee during a friendly went out for the same problem and was replaced by local defender George Baysah who proved erratic as he could not make his side to build up effectively, and conceded possession quite often.

In the 69th minute, the story of missed chances continued with Laffor and Dioh standing accused the most.

And after 76 minutes, Laffor belatedly made way for the American based striker Macolm Cephas who added some spice to the team's attack.

His runs were inspiring, touches subtle, but came on just too late to get the best for the Lone Star, as a dreadful Dioh Williams surprisingly ended the match despite squandering a host of clear chances.

About five minutes to Cephas entry the rain pulled down heavily, which gave more room to Lone Star's long balls as the water logged pitch prevented balls to be passed on the turf.

Two misses came from Dioh and then team mate Doe in a match which turned to be a drill, defense against attack, with the attacking side ignoring possession and penetration but just engaging in the long ball game, while the defending side only sat back, headed to break the

And in stoppage time, Stephen Mennoh failed to get the much needed goal after he headed a ball played from long range in the hands of the goalie.

A high jumping kick would have bing much more efficient, and the Senegalese referee put the melee to and end.

After the match Lawrence Doe was mobbed by the fans who hailed him for strong defending, and the player who was always never considered a good player under Jericho Nagbe during his days with the now defunct St.Anthony told reporters "I was hungry for international football, and i met LFA boss Izetta Wesley in Mali during my days with Stade De Malian". According to him that was during the Nations cup in 2002. Continuing he said "I gave her my number to get in touch with me to play for the Lone Star, but i was overlooked, i was never called at all, and i had to make use of the opportunity made available by Equatorial Guinea through their then Brazilian coach Antonio Dumas who encouraged me to play for that country after i had moved to the country's top club

Renascimento." While the likes of Murphy Nagbe, Zah Krangar and Francis Doe wept copiously after being put of of contention for Ghana 2008, Lawrence Doe and his entire family who had gone to see him in action danced on the pitch in ecstatic fashion at a wet ATS.

For his part coach Jericho noted "We played a good game, except that we were unlucky in getting a goal. "I have a mandate to build a team for 2010, and i now have a team, all we need to do now is to continue spotting younger players to add up", as a dejected Jericho was surrounded by a host of police officers.