With 11 defeats and three draws in all competitions
GUINEA BISSAU 3-1 IN REVERSE?
Ivory Coast take on Liberia today in Abidjan in World Cup qualifier; will the jinx be broken?
Danesius Marteh, email@example.com
Ivory Coast will take on Liberia at the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan in a second round, second leg 2018 World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.
A Cyriac Gohi Bi goal separated the two sides from the first leg at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) in Monrovia on November 13.
Gohi of Oostende in Belgium scored on the stroke of half-time after profiting from a poor clearance by defender Dirkir Glay.
It was their 14th meeting and their first World Cup qualifier but Liberia showed too much of respect to an Ivorian team hit by the withdrawals of Solomon Kalou of Hertha Berlin in Germany, Thomas Toure of Bordeaux in France and Wilfried Bony of Manchester City in England while Eric Bailly of Villarreal in Spain watched from the bench.
Liberia had lost 10 and drawn three of their 13 meetings from June 30, 1965 to June 16, 1995.
Before the ATS showdown, Ivory Coast had lost two, drawn six and won 14 of their 22 World Cup qualifiers in which they have qualified (2006, 2010 and 2014) while Liberia have lost 15, drawn five and won three of their 23 matches in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
Cheered on by hundreds of fans in their national colors, they were desperate to improve their performances in the competition and against a nemesis.
But all that ended in vain with some agonizing missed chances by William Jerbo of SD Ponferradina in Spain, Dioh Williams of Gefle in Sweden and Anthony Laffor of Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa.
Second half substitute Tonia Tisdell saw his 20-yard screamer glanced at the left post by an inch while Zah Kranger had a golden chance to equalize by might have run out of idea just before the final whistle was blown.
Ivory Coast have not lost a World Cup qualifier since Pierre Wobe of Cameroon scored a hat-trick in a 3-2 win in Abidjan on September 4, 2005.
They had lost the first leg 2-0 at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaoundé on July 4, 2004 but qualified for their first World Cup finals after Cameroon drew 1-1 with Egypt in Yaoundé and they beat Sudan 3-1 in Omdurman on October 8, 2005 respectively.
But DR Congo shocked Ivory Coast with a 4-3 win in a 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on October 15, 2014 in Abidjan.
So is anything possible in football? Well, Montserrado County Senator George Weah watched the first leg and believes the second leg will be opened if Liberia repeats their second half performance.
“Well, you could see that they [Ivory Coast] were lacking a lot of [key] players. Ivory Coast isn’t the team that we know but this is a new generation and you could see that they were at our level. So Liberia has a good team and a good chance in the return leg,” Weah told reporters.
The Ivory Coast Football Federation’s official website (www.fedivoir.com) is reporting that Frenchman Michel Dussuyer is pleased with the win, especially with excellent performance from “Lamine Kone, Seri Michael and Gohi Bi Cyriac, alongside heavyweights such as Sylvain Gbohouo, Ousmane Viera, Arthur Boka, Serge Aurier, Serey Die, Akpa Akpro, Seydou Doumbia and Yao Gervinho”.
While there were praises for Laffor, Jerbo and Tisdell, fedivoir.com says they have “made a great step towards qualification for the third round before receiving their opponents on Tuesday”.
A Liberian football delegation arrived in Abidjan on Sunday but was greeted with poor reception from airport officials and spent more than an hour going through Ebola screening, writes Julius Konton of Sky FM/TV, who traveled with the team, on facebook.
Liberia Football Association (LFA) president Musa Hassan Bility is head of delegation.
Before their departure, they were motivated by an undisclosed package from President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and US$2,000 from businessman George Kailondo, who also promised a winning bonus of US$20,000.
Montserrado County Representative Edwin Snowe, LFA vice president Musa Shannon, head coach James Salinsa Debbah, deputy coach Kelvin Sebwe, assistant coach Thomas Kojo, goalkeeping coach Lucretius Togba, administrative manager Washington Blay, logistics manager Sebastian Collins, Grand Gedeh County Representative Zoe Emmanuel Pennue and veteran journalists Malcolm Joseph and Hilary Justine-Colnoe of UNMIL Radio also traveled with the team.
The foreign-based contingent, including Patrick ‘Ronaldinho’ Wleh, who was stretchered-off after 21 minutes, remains unchanged.
Cellcom marketing manager Betty Flahn is heading a 10-man cheering squad from Monrovia, who won the promotional campaign "Fly to Abidjan”, organized by Cellcom.
The 14 overall winners will join DR Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Morocco, Uganda and Zambia in the group stage, which kicks off in October 2016.
Liberia: 16-Tommy Songo, 2-Tonia Tisdell, 3-Teah Dennis (Capt.), 5-Dirkir Glay, 6-Patrick Gerhardt, 8-Solomon Grimes, 9-Dioh Williams, 10-William Jerbo, 17-Sam Johnson, 18-Anthony Laffor and 20-Adolphus Marshall.
Substitutes: 1-Sampson Giddings, 4-Patrick Wleh, 7-Seku Conneh, 11-Zah Kranger, 12-Alseny Keita, 13-Trokon Zeon, 14-Murphy Oscar Dorley, 15-Alvin McConnell, 19-Van-Dave Harmon, 21-Hilton Varney and 22-Raymond Fanciah. Head coach: James Salinsa Debbah of Liberia.
Ivory Coast: 16-Sylvain Gbohouo, 2-Ousmane Viera, 3-Arthur Boka, 5-Jean Michael Seri, 7-Seydou Doumbia, 9-Cyriac Gohi Bi, 10-Yao Gervinho (Capt.), 11-Jean Akpa Akpro, 17-Serge Aurier, 19-Lamine Kone and 20-Serey Die.
Substitutes: 1-Mande Sayouba, 4-Simon Deli, 6-Mamadou Bagayoko, 8-Victorien Angban, 13-Giovanni Sio, 14-Ismaël Diomande, 15-Roger Assale, 18-Constant Djakpa, 21-Eric Baily and 22-Yao Serge. Head coach: Michel Dussuyer of France.
Congolese match officials: Lazard Tsiba, center referee; Tritton Franck Audiard Diawa, assistant referee #1; Sabhas Gislain Bantaba, assistant referee #2 and fourth official Messie Nkounkou.