There was heart break for Liberia’s Lone Star in yesterday’s AFCON 2017 Group A qualifiers against Togo’s Sparrow Hawks as William Jebor’s 43rd minute strike for the Lone Stars was cancelled out by second half goals from Sadat Ouro-Akoriko (63rd) and Emmanuel Adebayor (87th) for the Sparrow Hawks.
Employing a 4-1-4-1 formation, the Lone Stars, coached by Liberia’s record goal-scorer James Salinsa Debbah, took the game to the hosts with some attacking displays which paid off when a mistake in Togo’s midfield led to Porto’s Rio Ave striker William Jebor scoring his first international goal in the 43rd minute in just his second appearance for Liberia.
After the break, the Sparrow Hawks began to exert pressure but the Lone Star’s defense held them at bay until the 63rd minute when Sadate Ouro-Akoriko scored the equalizer from a corner kick. It’s still unclear if it was Our-Akoriko’s goal or Adebayor’s goal but the match was now tied at 1-1.
Not sitting back, the Lone Stars tried to score the winner by attacking in droves and they missed few chances before Adebayor met a cross from the right to score in the 87th minute and give his side the 2-1 win.
Speaking to reporters after the match, the Lone Star coach James Debbah praised the performance of his players but he was little bit critical of some of the calls made by the referee during the match.
“I’m not disappointed in the performance of my team. My players played well. By contrast, what I deplore is some of the calls from the referee,” he said after the game.
“I do not understand what happened. The referee whistled for fouls that did not exist. He even whistled corners he should not give. And it is unfortunate to be faced with such calls in a competition like this.”
Concerning the Sparrow Hawks of Togo, Debbah said: “The Togolese team is not a team that we can not beat. Apart from Adebayor who is out of the lot, all the other players were not superior to mine.
“I’m sure in the return match we can beat Togo. We have the confidence.”
For his part, Togo coach Tom Sainfeit praised skipper Emmanuel Adebayor who scored the winner even though he took the captaincy from the striker on game day.
“We had a poor start, which explained the problems we suffered in the first ten minutes. But then we fought back, and the Liberia goal came as a surprise,” Saintfiet said after the game.
“We were more on the offensive in the second half. We changed our system to play with two strikers and it paid off.
“I am proud of my whole team and especially of Adebayor, who put up a good fight and scored a fantastic goal.
“The whole team played well. We must now focus on our next game against Djibouti.”
Togo now joins Tunisia, who thrashed Djibouti 8-1 in Rades on Friday, at the top of Group A with three points while Liberia stays third and Djibouti remains rooted at the bottom.
On September 5th or 6th, Liberia will welcome Tunisia in Monrovia while Togo will travel to Djibouti.
The winner from each 13 groups qualifies automatically for the 2017 AFCON while the two best runners up from those 13 groups and the hosts Gabon complete the 16-team field of the African Cup of Nations.
Togo Starting XI (4-5-1): Mensah Cédric; Djéne Dakonam Ortega, Serge Akakpo, Abdoul Gafar Mamah, Mawouna Amevor; Serge Gakpé, Komlan Amewou, Sadate Ouro-Akoriko, Matthieu Dossevi (c), Floyd Ayité; Emmanuel Adebayor
Subs: Djenhani Yao, Akoete Eninful, Aboubacar Rachidou, Kossivi Nouwoklo, Meme Placca, Atakora Lalawele, Dové Womé
Liberia Starting XI (4-1-4-1): Nathaniel Sherman; Teah Dennis, Dirkir Glay, Solomon Grimes, Adolphus Marshall; Patrick Gerhadt; Sam Johnson, Zah Krangar (c), Anthony Laffor, Theo Weeks; William Jebor
Subs: Melvin King, Abel Gebor, Amadeyia Rennie, George Weah Jr, Sporo Somah, Seku Konneh, Junior Wilson