President Ellen Johnson –Sirleaf has told the national team the Lone Star that “we” await more victories while giving the team a heroic welcome at her temporary office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs upon its return from Guinea-Bissau where it secured a 3-1 victory.
“… So thank you all so, so much; you’ve really done it for us. We await more victory … that’s it, she said on Friday, 16 October as she joined the players in singing their motivational sports song in the Foyer of the Ministry of Foreign Affiars.
Police escorted the players in convoy to the President’s temporary office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as multitudes lined the streets in jubilation for the victory won against Guinea-Bissau. The team is expected to meet neighboring Cote d’Ivoire early next month as it moves to the next stage in the World Cup qualifier matches.
President Sirleaf gave envelopes in appreciation to the Coach James Debbah and the team, saying the day belonged to them because they earned it. She thanked all the officials who provided the means, plans and the organizers including Sports Minister Mr. Eugene Nagbe and the Liberia Football Association President Mr. Musa Baility.
“And I tell you, you have made Liberia so proud. Someone told me that we went up – I don’t know how many steps in the ranking – in such a way that everybody calls it a miracle; how you could move up so fast.” President Sirleaf said.
She asked Coach James Debbah to come close to her amidst cheers from the jubilant audience in the Foyer before saying “it just shows you what’s possible” when you get a committed person with a support team, and thanked Mr. Bility and all his team.
She said the vision for Lone Star to be victorious has just come to pass, and giving credit to each of the team members for making Liberia proud. Youth and Sports Minister Eugene Nagbe sounded a caveat that Liberia still has a long way ahead, though he assured that “we” have a very good plan.
He presented to President Sirleaf the national team along with the “National Football Master Plan,” recalling that the President had asked him five minutes earlier that the team has to be sustained. Coach Debbah briefly thanked President Sirleaf for the invitation, and gave way to his boss - LFA President Mr. Bility who presented to President Sirleaf a jersey on behalf of the team marked “EJS 1.”
Mr. Bility said Lone Star’s victory today was a result of President Sirleaf earlier statement that moved him and the Minister and other sports officials to put programs together. But he says the drivers of the programs “are the heroes of yesterday” including Coah Debbah, Kelvin Sengbeh, Musa Shannoh, Christopher Wleh, Joe Nagbe and George Gebro, among others.
Mr. Bility assured President Sirleaf that the country has a team that is prepared to represent what Liberia has meant and the face she [President Sirelaf] gave Liberia on the international front. “… We want to tell you we will follow your leadership to make sure to make sure – they say Ivory Coast is next, we wan to make sure that your schedule will fit the national team schedule. But we will carry you on that field and we will not allow you to leave that field feeling bad,” he said.
Mr. Bility also thanked the President because he said the funding of the national team has been very steady. He says the Ministry of Finance through the Ministry of Youth and Sports give the team full funding for every game.
By Winston W. Parley -Edited by Othello B. Garblah