Key Individual Battles In Liberia, Togo Plum Fixture
By Wleh Bedell
Liberia and Togo find themselves in a must win situation in what should be an intriguing fixture in a Gabon 2017 African Cup of Nations Qualifier on Sunday, June 5, 2016. With the Lone Star in pole position in Group one with nine points from four games and their Sunday’s opponents having two points less from the same number of games, this penultimate fixture is certainly expected to be intriguing.
With Tunisia expected to wrap maximum three points against traditional whipping boys Djibouti away which would take them to ten points, both Liberia and Togo will no doubt be itching to win such an epic fixture. The Togolese won the corresponding fixture 2-1 after a William Jebor brave strike was cancelled as an Emmanuel Adebayor inspired Togo left it late to win 2-1 on June 14, 2005. In that match, Jebor made history in becoming the first ever Liberian to score on Togolese soil
Both sides have since met 16 times with Togo winning nine, Liberia four and three ending in a draw which is an indication that Togo has the edge on the head to head basis. Besides, they have never being beaten in Liberia in 20 years. The Togolese have scored against their Liberian counterparts 21 times with Liberia netting ten times against them. Already, connoisseurs have begun labeling the match as a “William Jebor, Emmanuel Adebayor battle”, while others have said it is “James Debbah vs Claude Le Roy”.
Whatever the case, it is expected to be an exhilarating battle and how the individual battles will fare is what is being sailed through with Togo who play a variety of formations; 4-2-3-1, 4-4-1-1 and 4-3-3 to Liberia’s traditional 4-4-2 formation in the clash. Liberia’s 4-4-2 to Togo’s 4-4-1-1 in what should be a very tough midfield battle. Please note that these are just probable line-ups.
Solomon Grimes vs Floyd Ayite
The 28 year old diminutive Liberian full back who has won 17 caps and plies his trade with Cypriot elite club Nea Salamis, will be in a one v one battle with the 27 year old, 19 caps, three goals, French Club Bastia winger cum forward whose pace and trickery could be a handful. But, Solo’s intelligence and good reading of the game will be a plus. Ayite is never shy of taking the ball to the opposition and will test his marker quite well in providing width in the box. Solo will rarely venture forward from the onset and will mostly be involved in the diagonal balls supply.
Pace and trickery vs intelligence and aggression
Gizzie Dorbor vs Lalawele Atakora
The 29 year old, nine capped, non adventurous full back of Israeli Second tier outfit Hapoel Afula will be going against one of the fastest wingers on the continent. Gizzie hardly venture forward, but is a fierce challenger of the ball, something he would need to do with much aggression and tenacity against the nimble footed 25 year old, ten caps, two goals Togolese winger who is with Helsinborg of Sweden. The winger is very quick and is noted for providing early crosses. He also cuts into devastating effect and tracks back quite well when his side is on the back foot. At 29, Gizzie does not have the strongest point of a full back, speed, as he has being playing as a holding midfielder or center back for club in the last four years which requires less running, but good timing, interceptions, tackles and distribution. He will have to be patient to some extent against his Togolese marker and then throw in the tackle at the appropriate time, but “Lala” as the winger is nicknamed, will never stop trying to nutmeg his Liberian opponent. Strength vs speed.
Dirkir Glay vs Serge Gakpe
Indonesia club Persatuan Sepak Bola, 24 year old seven capped Liberian international will be using his rugged cum no nonsense ability to try keep at bay the 29 year old, 30 capped, four goals striker who is on loan from Italian club Genoa to another Italian club Atalanta. He is good at finishing, loves to strike from range, and Glay whose strong marking and aerial power is a gain, must be at his best against the front man. One major concern from a Glay perspective is his inability to make the right decision technically in passing by evidence of the 1-0 loss to the Ivory Coast where he conceded position quite easily. Rugged Defending vs precision Striking .
Teah Dennis, Jr. vs Emmanuel Adebayor
Another major battle between the leaders who will be starting from where they left off in the corresponding fixture. Having had interesting test against the likes of Papis Cisse, Emmanuel Eminike, Manucho and Asamoah Gyan, the 24 year old rearguard, 20 capped international from Jordanian club Al Ahli will have to keep his usual composure in dealing with the one time African footballer of the year whose potent heading power and ability to pick the pockets of the opposition will be a major factor. Adebayor, aged 32, with 66 caps and 30 goals is quite a clever player whose vast experience, subtle moves and precision finishing can make him a handful on a given day. The English club Crystal Palace man will play deep at times, make runs in the box, tee up teammates, jink wide in a hunt for goal as Teah must always be the first to get there in deceiving the former Arsenal man with flicks, dispossession, tight marking mostly in dealing with the flank balls and set pieces as he will always run to the near post to cause havoc. Composure and Grit Marking vs Clever Movements and Precision Finishing
Al-Seny Keita vs Jacques Alaixys Romao
It can be described as a battle of the 32 year olds who both ply their trade in France. The French born Romao at top flight side Olympique Marseille and Keita at J A Drancy, a club four places below in the lower division. Both players are simple passers, can spray the passes in their range, play with calmness, but it is the Togolese that is a bit more aggressive and hardworking. The 52 capped Romao can also provide the long ball in switching play and as well linking the forwards, while the 12 capped Keita will serve as the shield in front the back four making play from deep. The Battle of the 32 year old Simple Passers
Theo Weeks Lewis vs Mathieu Dossevi
The Lone Star 26 year old, 19 capped, Cypriot Club Ermis Araddippou presumed playmaker who will be operating behind the strikers will have to contend with the 28 year old ten capped, one goal French born tigerish midfielder of Belgian club Standard Leige whose long range passing and uncompromising man marking ability will bring to the fore another love to see duel. Theo will have to be more business minded this time and eschew the show boating act in the 5-0 demolition of “very easy to beat” Djibouti. Defense Splitting Passes vs Strong Work Ethic
Anthony Laffor vs Abdoul Gafar Mamah
At age 31, the South African club Mamelodi Sundowns mazy runner down the channels, Anthony Laffor is the highest capped player in this current generation with 28, netting four goals. His never ending runs, bundle of energy which enables him to weave through opponents, tracks back and marauds forward makes him to have some hope in the duel with the 69 capped fullback of Maldova club FC Chicinau Dacia. The 30 year old Togolese is a tough opponent to get by though as his clever marking and precision timing makes him a respected opponent.
Speed vs Precision Timing
Sam Johnson vs Niasidji Kokou Donou
Strong runs, good work ethic and descent finishing on a day are attributes of the Swedish club Djurgadens, 23 year old, eight capped, one goal forward who has since proved to be multi functional as he has also featured in central midfield in previous matches where he did the “donkey work”. Against the 25 year old, eight capped, former Enugu Rangers of Nigeria and now Togolese club Maranatha defender, he should not rest on his recent form as his opponent holds no prisoner. Vast Speed vs No Nonsense Attribute
William Jebor vs Serge Akakpo
The hair braided, new path finder, trail blazer and boy-wonder who has eight out of eight, a one hundred percent record at just age 24, will have to hassle, make in-roads, fight and torment the 28 year old, 44 capped, one goal defensive rock who is a mainstay at Turkish club Trabzonspor. With quality service, Jebor can finish, but his marker is the man that will be instructed to keep him quiet. The Liberian forward on loan from Portuguese club Rio Ave to Spanish club Ponferradina will have to be lurking in key areas for the loose or lost balls to pounce on.
Strong Will for Goal vs Lithe Marking
Francis Doe vs Djene Dakoncan
The 30 year old returnee from Malaysian club Felda is endowed with sublime skills, great movements and gifted finishing. His five goals for country could be increased and as he plays off his would be partner in crime Jebor. Doe will have to use his skills to dribble, cause lots of problems, engage in the one, twos with Jebor, be used or use his playmate as a decoy to cause danger for the 28 year old Alcorcon of Spain defender who is strong in the air and is not afraid to throw in the tackle. Mesmerizing skills cum Goal Hunting Act vs Ferocious Tackles
It is worth noting that both goalkeepers will have to be on top of their game. Togo’s 37 year old, 56 capped, experienced shot stopper Agassa Kossi of French club Reims who was first choice goaltender for country at the 2006 World Cup in Germany is still effective in dealing with aerial crosses, providing salute catches, quick off his line and good also at the long balls in switching his team from defense to attack in a counter attacking fashion. It is however some worry for his opposite number Tommy Songo, who at age 21 has won just five caps and is match rusty as he has being out of action as it relates to competitive football for local club LISCR due to poor form combined with a minor injury for the past two months since fumbling against rival club FC Fassell. The Youngster at one end showing off against the veteran at the other end, reminiscent of a pupil vs master battle.