With George Weah's touch of 'Madiba Magic', Liberia vows to make Bafana Bafana suffer

Mohammed Sangare of Liberia celebrates scoring against Bafana Bafana in their Afcon qualifier. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Mohammed Sangare of Liberia celebrates scoring against Bafana Bafana in their Afcon qualifier. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published Mar 27, 2023


Cape Town - Everything will be cock-a-hoop on Tuesday when South Africa meet hosts Liberia in a return AFCON Group K fixture in the capital Monrovia which has a population of just over a million people.

The jubilant Liberian coach Ansu Keita who guided his charges to a shock 2-all draw against South Africa in Friday's clash at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto said the match venue will be packed to the rafters on Tuesday.

If it happens it will be in stark contrast to the smallish crowd at Orlando Stadium. According to Keita, the fans will be streaming in at the Samuel Kanyon Doe in the morning already for the late afternoon clash.

Liberian fans are also thrilled that the Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium, their national stadium, has been declared suitable for hosting international again. It will be the first time in three years that the Liberian national team will be hosted there.

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That should also contribute to a hostile and intimidating atmosphere for the South African visitors. It has all elements to make Keita's vow of making life uncomfortable for Bafana Bafana come true.

"I’m telling you the tactical strategy we will use is to make South Africa suffer on this (artificial) pitch," said Keita.

“We’re not going to choke. We’re going to play. No matter what happens, we will play.

“The game is not at 2pm. It is at 4pm Liberian time (6pm SA time). The pitch is artificial. I don’t believe that is an advantage to Liberia. It’s an advantage for both teams.

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"South Africa is bigger than us, in football, everywhere, but we are more prepared than them at this time. We are better mentally, physically and tactically.

"I am not pushing it. I’m telling you the truth. At home, we’re prepared.”

The Liberian squad includes 16 foreign-based players and seven from the league. Most of the players have been in a camp for the past month after the Liberia Football Association suspended domestic league matches.

On home turf, there can be no bigger boost for Liberia's national team than to take in a pep talk by their iconic president George Weah, who brings his own brand of 'Madiba Magic' to the dressing room.

Weah, one of the world's greatest footballers in the 1990s, is a former national team player with 75 caps, as well as a national team coach. He has played for some of the world's greatest clubs like AC Milan, Chelsea and Manchester City. He is the only African to win the Ballon d Or (1995).

At the time he also became the first person not to be born in Europe to win the title. In the same year, he won his greatest accolade, the 1995 FIFA World Player of the Year.

Keita also highlighted the role of assistant coach Anthony Laffor who spent several years in South Africa, playing for three PSL teams,

“First of all, Anthony Laffor is a legend in Liberia, a very big legend," said Keita

“Trust me with Laffor present, it motivated the players and gave them confidence.

“He knows the players in South Africa and he told us about them, gave us pieces of advice, and trust me, it’s exactly what went wrong.

"He was confident we could get a draw or win, and I was confident too, the players were too. Now we have even greater motivation.”