17 May 2014

Liberia: Lone Stars Seek to Erase Afcon Nightmare

Liberia begins yet another journey for a place at the Africa Cup of Nations, a gathering of the continent's football elite.

The Lone Stars' last appearance at the showpiece African football event was in 2002 in Mali and interim coach, Thomas Kojo, incidentally a member of the 2002 squad is hoping to guide the team to break the jinx for over a decade.

Kojo, a South African trained coach with spells at Johannesburg-based second-tier side, FC AK, believes the Lone Stars can erase the painful nightmares that have haunt them in times past with the determination of the current group of players as the basis.

"It's been 13-years now since we (Liberia) qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations. Now, we have a big chance. It will be a great for our young team reach there.

"It is big test for the players and only victory can ensure their presence in the tournament. We are taking it game by game," Kojo told cafonline.com ahead of Sunday's first round qualifier against Lesotho in Monrovia.

"We have encouraged and motivated our players to be strong against Lesotho. I know some of their (Lesotho) players, who ply their trade in South Africa. They have a good team and we won't underrate them.

"It's good we are hosting the first leg. Our target is a convincing result to make the second leg in Maseru not a difficult task."

Kojo, who played alongside the legendary George Oppong Weah, 1995 World Player of the Year, has invited four foreign based players for battle against Likuena. Former CSKA Moscow attacking midfielder, Sekou Jabateh, nopw on loan at Greek club PAOK Salonika, defensive midfielder Alseny 'Ocha-cha' Keita of French lower division side, Jean D'arch Drancy, un-capped Germany-based Chris Jones and captain Anthony Snoti Laffor, a league winner Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa last week.

Laffor said "we have to get a decisive victory against to give us a vital lead for the return leg in Maseru. We have a golden opportunity, we need to work as team, keep our focus to get there".

The Lone Stars' other appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations was in 1996 in South Africa, and just like six years later in Mali, their campaign ended at the group phase.

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