The week ended with disappointment for Liberian football fans, as the national U20 team exited the 2019 WAFU U20 Nations Cup following a 1-1 draw with Mali.
The Junior Lone Star bowed out of the competition on Saturday, November 30 after finishing at the bottom of Group B with one point from two games, having lost to the Gambia in their first group game. Coach Robert Lartey’s side had already narrowly lost 1-0 to the Gambia in their first game and needed a win against Mali.
However, Liberia was unable to replicate its 2018 form as they were held by Mali to put an end to their hopes of reaching the quarterfinals. Instead of taking a win, a second defeat seemed inevitable, with Mali maintaining a 1-0 lead. However, LISCR FC striker Mark Karlay leveled the lead from Jeremy Saygbe’s assists.
There were no more goals from either side until the sound of the final whistle, as they both settled for a draw. Mali qualified with two points from two games, as they finished second behind the group leader, Gambia, which collected four points from two games.
The result against Mali ended Liberia’s journey in the tournament and appears to have placed a dark cloud over coach Robert Lartey’s future. The former Barrack Young Controller Football Club gaffer led the Lone Star team to the 2019 WAFU Nations Cup, where they won one and lost two of their three games played in Senegal as they failed to reach the semifinals of either the cup or plate competition.
Despite the result in Senegal, Lartey was handed the U20 team, which failed to win a game at the WAFU U20 Nations Cup in Guinea. His time with the U20 team stands in stark contrast to his predecessor, Christopher Wreh, who led the team to the final of the 2018 WAFU U20 Nations Cup against the eventual champion, Gambia.
Featured photo courtesy of the Liberia Football Association