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04 Sep 2015
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Written by Danesius Marteh, danesius.marteh@frontpageafricaonline.com; Martina Brooks, martinabrooks123@yahoo.com

Monrovia - Liberia will take on Tunisia tomorrow in a make or break 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS), which has been undergoing its fifth renovation in two years, since March. Stadium workers were eagerly putting finishing touches together when our reporter toured the facility yesterday but it is highly unlikely the job will be done by kick-off time at 16:00GMT (4:00PM local time) unless 10,000 workers are recruited.

Twenty-six players have been training under the watchful eyes of coach James Salinsa Debbah and his technical staff that includes deputy coach Kelvin Sebwe, trainer Joe Armstrong Nagbe, under-23 head coach Thomas Kojo and goalkeeper coach Lucretius Togba. There were no places for striker Edward Junior Wilson of Felda United in the Malaysian Super League and midfielders Amadaiya Rennie of SK Brann in the Norwegian First Division, Theo Weeks of Ermis Aradippou in the Cypriot First Division and Abel Gebor of KS Tërbuni Pukë in the Albanian Superliga, who were in Lomé for the 2-1 defeat to Togo on June 14.

Nathaniel Sherman, who has been the undisputed number one goalie, is ruled out of tomorrow’s tie. The Barrack Young Controller (BYC) shot stopper sustained “serious facial injury”, having crashed into a transparent glass door at the team’s Executive Lodge while communicating on the cell phone.

According to Liberia Football Association (LFA) sources, Sherman was admitted at the John F. Kennedy memorial medical center Thursday. Spain-based striker William Jebor did not train after he bumped into BYC defender Alpha James during Tuesday’s warm-up match but participated in yesterday’s session.  Debbah must do without towering defender Omega Roberts of FK Donji Srem in the Serbian Prva Liga (second division), who declined to honor the invitation at the eleventh hour.

Roberts is yet to make his debut for Srem, who are 11th placed on the 16-team log with three points after three draws since the league started on August 15. Addressing a news conference at the LFA headquarters and flanked by Sebwe on August 29, Debbah bemoaned the limited time he has to work with his squad. Tunisia coach Henryk Kasperczak, who picked eight players from Etoile du Sahel due to the club’s fine form in the Caf Confederation and Tunisian Cups, arrived yesterday with his 26-man squad.

The Tunisians arriving at the RIA

It remains largely unchanged from the 8-1 mauling of Djibouti in Tunis on June 13 with hat-trick hero Yasine Chikhaoui of FC Zurich in Switzerland among the stars. In eight meetings, Liberia has won two, drawn two and lost four matches respectively. In their last meeting in Tunis on December 30, 2001, Liberia lost 7-2 in an international friendly ahead of the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Bamako, Mali. Liberia did win her last home encounter, 2-0 in a 2000 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Samuel Kanyon Doe sports complex in Paynesville on June 20, 1999.

Probable line-ups

Liberia: Saylee Swen, Solomon Grimes, Gizzie Dorbor, Dirkir Glay, Teah Dennis, Sekou Jabateh-Oliseh, Patrick Gerhardt, Zah Kranger, Anthony Laffor, Grandpa Doe and William Jerbo.

Tunisia: Moez Ben Cherifia, Syam Habib Ben Youssef, Hamza Aguerebi, Mohammed Ali Yakoubi, Ali Maaloul, Yasine Chikhaoui, Ferjani Sassi, Chaker Regeui, Yoann Touzghar, Wahbi Khazri and Saber Khalifa.  

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