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14 Mar 2016
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Monrvovia - Liberia head coach James Salinsa Debbah has named midfielders Theo Weeks and Dulee Johnson in a 25-man squad to face Djibouti in a back-to-back 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers. Weeks last played for Liberia in a 2-0 defeat to Senegal in a 2014 World Cup qualifier at the Samuel Kanyon Doe sports complex on June 16, 2013.

He has been overlooked by Debbah, who was appointed in November 2014 despite calls by fans for his inclusion. Then interim coach Thomas Kojo ignored Weeks for the 2015 Afcon qualifiers with Lesotho in which Liberia lost 2-1 on aggregate. “There have been lots of issues with players coming to play for the national team and most of them have been indiscipline. So there is a problem with them and the LFA. I make a list and the LFA says it can only honor three names and the three players were on my nine-[man] list,” said Kojo at a post-match news conference after Liberia beat Lesotho 1-0 at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) on May 18, 2014.

Pressed as to why an aging Alseny Keita was preferred over Weeks, Kojo said: “There is an issue with certain players and the LFA because of indiscipline attitude. It is not because of performance he [Theo Weeks] was left out. It was because of problems that existed before. “If the LFA is saying that they don’t want certain players to play for the national team any more then let it be. They are running the football. There were issues [in the national team]. And you know about issues. There was a game and this same player left the camp.”  

According to a release from the Liberia Football Association (LFA), Debbah has also named Johnson as one of 19 foreign-based players. Johnson hasn’t played for Liberia since he was expelled by then Hungarian coach Bertalan Bicskei (deceased) on September 3, 2010, two days to a 2012 Afcon qualifier with Zimbabwe.  Despite media reports quoting LFA sources of a possible return, there was no place for Francis Grandpa Doe, who was told to leave camp by Debbah ahead of the return leg with Guinea Bissau in a 2018 World Cup qualifier in October 2013.

Doe’s problems are compound complex as it ranges from a behavioral pattern to unwillingness by his teammates to play with him. It’s like there will be a players’ revolt, should Doe return, as was seen long before Chelsea mutually parted company with Jose Mourinho following his burst-up with then doctor Eva Carneiro. Six local players were selected as Liberia play the first leg at Stade National El-Hadj Hassan Gouled Aptidon in Djibouti City on March 17 while the return leg is on March 22 at the ATS in Monrovia. The goalkeepers are Tommy Songo of LISCR FC, Samson Giddings of FC Fassell and James Galley of Watanga.

Trokon Zeon of LPRC Oilers, Alvin Macconough and Hilton Varney of Barrack Young Controllers (BYC); Solomon Grimes of Nea Salamis Famagusta in Cyprus; Gizzie Dorbor of Hapoel Afula in Israel; Teah Dennis of Al-Ahli in Jordan; Dirkir Glay of Mpumalanga Black Aces in South Africa and Omega Roberts of FK Donji Srem Pecinci in Serbia complete the list of defenders. Ten midfielders were recalled but there was no place for Malaysia-based Patrick Gerhardt, who was released by Sarawak FA. Gerhardt has been an ever presence figure since Debbah took over in November 2014.

They include Alsény Keita of Jeanne d’Arc de Drancy in France; Dulee Johnson of Molde FK in Norway; Anthony Laffor of Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa; Theo Weeks of Ermis Aradippou in Cyprus; Dioh Williams of Gefle IF in Sweden; Zah Krangar of Felda United in Malaysia; Tonia Tisdell of Karsiyaka Karabükspor in Turkey; Kpah Sherman of Santos FC in South Africa; Melvin George of Hantharwady United FC in Myanmar and Marcus Macaulay of Al Ahli in Jordan.

William Jebor of SD Ponferradina in Spain; Sam Johnson of Djurgårdens in Sweden; Patrick ‘Ronaldinho’ Wleh of Selangor FA in Malaysia and Sekou Conneh of Bethlehem Steel in the United States of America complete the list of strikers. Togo lead Group A with six points from two games while Liberia and Tunisia are leveled with three points from two games but Liberia are ranked second due to their head-to-head record with Tunisia in the group.  Liberia have a perfect opportunity to collect six points from Djibouti over two legs while Tunisia and Togo battle it over the same period.

Last modified on Monday, 14 March 2016 20:22
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