As the national team of Liberia continues to receive applause from Liberians at home and abroad since their convincing win over Guinea Bissau that has propelled the team to another stage of the 2018 World Cup qualifier, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has paid them a heartfelt tribute for a job well done.
President Sirleaf congratulated the team for proving doubters wrong once more against the African Wild Dogs who they trounced with a comfortable win (3-1).
She urged the players to continue the fight until the country qualifies for the global showpiece that will be held in Russia in three years.
She made the remarks when she received the senior national team at her Foreign Ministry office where they paid her a courtesy call en route to the Antoinette Tubman Stadium to celebrate the team’s victory.
The parade had earlier commenced from the team’s camp at the Executive Lounge on the Roberts International Airport (RIA) highway.
Lone Star returned home via Air Maroc from Bissau, where the second leg of the competition was played at the Stade du 24 September following a 1-1 draw in Monrovia.
President Sirleaf in a statement described Liberia’s victory as a day that they made the country proud. At the back of the Bissau victory is a two-header encounter (home and away) against reigning African champions, the Elephants of Cote D’Ivoire, set for next month.
She described as heroes the players of the national team, some of whom travelled thousands of miles from where they ply their trade to come and honour the games,.
“The success of the national team shows that things can happen once you have committed people undertaking a task,” President Sirleaf said, further assuring the team that government will ensure the unhindered participation of the team not just in the qualifying rounds of the African Nations Cup and World Cup, but other major competitions.
The President commended the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Liberia Football Association (LFA), the mobilization committee, the coaches and staff for a job well done, stressing, “These are the real people; the people who I want to thank is you.”
The Elephants are seen as the clear favourites to come on top, but President Sirleaf noted that anything can happen when committed people are at work.
“This day belongs to you. It belongs to you because you have earned it. You have made you and your country proud,” she told members and technical staff of the national team.
Many have termed the warm reception that the team received back home along with the President’s encouraging comments as a huge boost ahead of the 2018 World Cup qualifier showpiece with the Elephants.
President Sirleaf said that the sky becomes the limit when committed people undertake a task, like what is now taking place in the camp of the national team. She noted that the team is now led by committed technical staff headed by one of its former strikers, James Salinsa Debbah.
The coach is the current all-time highest scorer of the national team. He is widely known as “The Nation’s Most Celebrated Star” because of clinical finishing when he was at his peak and the number of victories he brought to his country.
FA president, Musa Bility, along with the team stand-in captain, Dikir Glay, who proxied for the departed Teah Dennis, on behalf of the team, presented President Sirleaf a national team jersey with the inscription “EJS-1.” By virtue of her portfolio as President of the country, President Sirleaf has the title of Chief Patron of Sports.
LFA president Bility, after lauding President Sirleaf for her government’s continuous support to the development of soccer in the country, assured the president of victory against Cote D’Ivoire. “The new team will defeat Ivory Coast next month. We will carry you on that field and you will not leave from there feeling bad,” he told the President.