Despite hostile, and aggressive posture on the part of Sierra Leoneans towards Liberia’s national team, the Lone Star on Saturday, September 7, 2019 in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Liberia on Sunday qualified for the world Cup Group stage at the Siaka Stevens Sports Stadium.
18-year-old Lone Star goalkeeper, Ashely Williams was Liberia’s hero on Sunday after he saved a stoppage-time penalty which dramatically placed Liberia through to the group phase of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, even though the host country, Sierra Leone in the presence of its citizens who turned out in their numbers were leading 1-0, disappointedly drooped out of this global soccer tournament.
However, following an attack on players of the Liberian National Team, Lone Star, in the Sierra Leonean capital, Freetown, on Saturday, President George Mannah Weah has expressed disappointment over the incident.
He recalled a similar attack on the Lone Star in Brazzaville when he was Technical Director of the team.
“It’s sad when what’s supposed to be the most beautiful and unifying game turns into violence, thus causing supporters to attack players in this 21st century,” President Weah in a social media post Sunday.
“As former Technical Director of the Lone Star, I witnessed similar incident in Congo, Brazzaville; where we were stoned out of the training ground. This incident compelled us to train at our hotel between the trees, but such intimidation did not stop us from defeating the host 1-0 to qualify for the African Cup of Nations,” said the one-time World Footballer.
The Liberian leader encouraged players of the Lone Star to be prepared, calm and focused, and not allow anything to stop them from making history.
“The Lone Star forever! O long may it float o’er land and o’er sea. Victory!” he indicated.
On Saturday, a group of stone-throwing youths descended on the Siaka Stevens Sports Stadium in Freetown where the Liberian National Team (Lone Star) was about to hold a practice session before their FIFA qualifier match on Sunday, September 8, disrupting the planned training.
The Sierra Leone Football Association has, however, distanced itself from the incident and assured the team’s safety.
However, the Liberian government has contacted the appropriate Sierra Leonean officials, and also filed a formal complaint with the football world governing body, FIFA.
“The government of Liberia is aware of the disturbing attack on our national team in Sierra Leone and is therefore working through various channels to ensure the safety of the players and other members of the Liberian delegation. The team is currently securely sheltered at their hotel in Freetown as we assess the situation,” the Liberian Government said in a statement Saturday
The Liberian National Team is in Freetown for the second leg of their 2022 World Cup qualifiers against the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone, having won the first leg 3-1 in Monrovia recently.