Champions Nimba and Lofa Reach County Meet Quarterfinals

The National County Sports Meet will return to the Samuel Kayon Doe Sports Complex this Saturday, April 27, when the quarterfinals of the nation’s most prominent sports tournament event will kick off.

Preliminary rounds of the competition ended on Saturday across four venues. Eight counties secured their tickets to the next round, while seven others were eliminated in the soccer and kickball categories.

Among the teams qualifying for the knockout round are football’s defending champions, Nimba, and kickball’s defending champions, Lofa. The two counties’ hope of winning the competition three consecutive times remains alive.

Group A host River Gee made history by qualifying for the quarterfinals as group winners of both the kickball and football categories. The southeastern county progressed to the knockout round as winners of their respective groups for the first time since the start of the competition in 1956.

Both kickball and football teams avoided defeats in the group stage, with the kickball team winning all three games while the football team won two and drew one of its three games. Qualifying alongside River Gee in Group A was Grand Gedeh. Like River Gee, Grand Gedeh qualified for the knockout round with its football and kickball teams, eliminating Sinoe and Maryland.

With Montserrado hosting the knockout games, they ensured to have representatives following the qualification of their football team. The football team won to reach the knockout round with seven points, winning two and drawing one of its three games. They kicked off their campaign with a 2-0 win over Gbarpolu and drew 1-1 with Bomi in their second game. They sealed their spot in the quarterfinals as Group B winners on the final day after a 2-0 win over Cape Mount that needed a win to make the last eight. Bomi’s football team’s good start to the tournament rescued them on the final day, where they lost 2-1 to Gbarpolu, who got their first win in the competition. Bomi kicked off their campaign with a 2-1 win over winless Grand Cape Mount and drew 1-1 with Montserrado in their second group game. Despite their defeat in their final match to Gbarpolu, they qualified as runners-up in the group.

Citizens of Gbarpolu still have reason to continue cheering in the 2023-24 National County Sports Meet following the progression of their kickball team, which finished second in Group B. They finished second behind Bomi, who finished as group winners after winning two and drawing one of their three games.

Two Montserrado and Gbarpolu players tussle for a ball. Photo: Kla Wesley.

Like River Gee, Nimba progressed to the knockout round with the kickball and football teams finishing as group winners. Nimba’s football team kicked off their campaign with a disappointing 1-1 draw with Bong before winning their last two games against Grand Kru and River Cess. Qualifying with Nimba from Group C was Bong, which drew two and won one of their three games. After forcing Nimba to a 1-1 draw in their opening game, Bong played to a 1-1 draw with River Cess and won 3-1 against Grand Kru in their final match to finish second behind Nimba. The kickball team of Nimba drew two and won one of its three group games to finish as group winners above River Cess, which won one and drew two of its three games, missing out on the top spot due to fewer home runs.

Margibi was the only group host in the football and kickball categories that failed to reach the knockout round. Their kickball and football teams lost one and drew one of their two games, losing the qualification spots to Lofa and Grand Bassa. Lofa won the two groups, with its kickball team winning all of its two games and its football team winning one and drawing one of its two games.

Even as the recent election results show the great division within Liberia, citizens are still uniting for a common purpose: sport.

The tournament was initially scheduled to commence in December last year but kicked off in April after the postponement due to the October general and presidential elections.

Gbarpolu’s kickball team jubilates. Photo: Kla Wesley

The Quarterfinals

In the first set of quarterfinal games on Sunday, Group A kickball winner River Gee will take on Group C runners-up Rivercess in the first kickball game at 11:00 a.m. before record kickball champions Nimba take on Group A runners-up Grand Gedeh at 12 midday. Group A winner River Gee will take on Bong in the first football quarterfinal game, while Grand Gedeh takes on defending champions Nimba in the day’s final match.

The quarterfinals will climax on Sunday, April 28, with Bomi County taking on Bassa in the first kickball game at 11:00 a.m. and kickball champions Lofa taking on Group B runners-up. To climax the quarterfinal games, Montserrado will play Grand Bassa at 2:00 a.m., while Bomi will take on football defending champions Lofa at 4:00 p.m.

Featured photo by Kla Wesley

T Kla Wesley Jr.

T. Kla Wesley Jr. is a member of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia.

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