Africa-Press – Liberia. Liberia will be in action on Wednesday, October 20, 2021 against Senegal in the first round of qualifying for the 2022 women’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium in Monrovia .
Both Liberia and Senegal last faced off on March 4, 2020, in the semifinal of the WAFU “A” Women’s Football Tournament in Bo, Sierra Leone when Liberia lost 2-1.
The Female Lone Star team coached by Robert Lartey have been training for the past two weeks and more to face the visiting Senegal women national team.
Coach Lartey and his dominant local base team will be looking to secure all three points at home to give them added advantage going into the second leg a week later.
The national female football team of Liberia started their preparation at the end of September even though the long break since the national league closed has been a problem for the technical staff but coach Lartey believes his girls are better prepared for the tough encounter .
On the other hand, the Senegalese women’s team began early preparation weeks before Liberia who spent less than a month’s training ahead of the qualification fixture.
The Female Lone Star’s last international fixture was against Sierra Leone during the Mano River Union Peace Tournament played in Freetown on Monday, April 26, 2021; since then the team has been out of engagement.
Speaking at a pre-match conference Lartey said he is impressed with his team that is well balanced with the introduction of Mimi Eiden who he said was fantastic in the few practice sessions.
Mimi played for the Universities of North Dakota and Montana in the United States of America. And is the only professional player in the Liberian team.
“We are blessed to have a very good striker, she can create the space between the midfield to pass even her first game she got two goals but the sad thing is we don’t have Angeline Kieh and Agnatha to give us a powerful attack.”
“We are prepared and we have a very young team that is willing to showcase their talents come tomorrow and willing to give their best,” Lartey said.
Explaining why he dropped Maitta Morris, one of the best performers in the just ended national league, Lartey said the player has not been up to the task during all of the trending sessions.
“Miatta hasn’t been doing well in training. She hasn’t been putting in time. She wasn’t impressive in our friendly games. She prioritized eating over training. She was more focused on the food coming to the camp. She’s overweight,” he said.
According to the Lone Star coach, though Senegal is a very good and experienced team but his players are determined to pull the needed result noting that his players should not be underrated.
Lartey told LFA media that Angeline and Agatha, who play for Campbellsville University in the United States of America, are engaged with academic work and could not make the trip for the match.
“They left Monrovia to go to school. The LFA worked tirelessly so they can play in the qualifiers but education is a first priority for the LFA. So, we decided against calling Angeline and Agatha because they are taking their midterm exams,” Lartey explained.
He revealed that captain Jestina Wilson, who played for Determine Girls during the Orange 2020/2021 season, told him that she has retired from football.
“Jestina plainly told me she doesn’t want to play football anymore because she feels she has given everything to football and then what she witnessed during the LFA awards ceremony when she wasn’t named as the best defender [in the women’s division] didn’t go down well with her.
“I tried to convince her that the awards have nothing to do with the national team. I told her that you must respect your country when you are called to duty.
“Be that as it may, everybody has their own way of seeing things and she is entitled to her rights. Nobody should infringe on her rights and I have to respect her decision to retire although I don’t agree with the reasons she gave,” added Lartey.
Margaret Stewart, who formed a defensive partnership with Jestina beginning with the friendlies in Sierra Leone in December 2019, will also be absent.
“Margaret sustained an injury with Determine Girls during the tournament [WAFU Zone ‘A’ women’s Champions League] in Cape Verde. I have spoken to her and she is in rehabilitation, which is good for her career,” he stressed.
For her part the captain of the team Kebbeh Lamine said her teammates are in high spirits for the match and will deliver the result Liberians expected.
She said though three of their key players are not part of the match, their absence will not be missed because those on the team are all capable of pulling the result. Senegal coach Bassouare Diaby said they are prepared for the match and hopeful of a nice match against his counterpart.
“I think I am a fighter I want to fight my life when I play a game I want to win, I will do my best with my team to win this match but anything can happen but we are here not to draw we playing to do our best and will put all our potential in this match to win,” Diaby told the Sporting media in Liberia.
He disclosed his team includes four overseas players who are all playing in France and will do their best to win the match. Meanwhile The Liberia Football Association (LFA) has informed all stakeholders and vendors that the game will be played behind closed doors as per FIFA/CAF mandate on 20 October.
The aggregate winner will face the aggregate winner between Mali and Guinea in the Second Round. A total of 44 teams, including Liberia, will participate in the qualifiers. Eleven teams will qualify for the final tournament to join hosts Morocco.
It will be the first edition organized under the format of 12 teams. The 2022 AWCON, officially known as the Total Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, will be the 12th edition. The biennial international football championship is organized by CAF for the women’s national teams of Africa. The tournament also doubles as the African qualifiers to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The top four teams will qualify for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, and two more teams will advance to the inter-confederation playoffs.