Depleted Liberians arrive

HARARE - Liberia national team coach James Salinsa Debbah is unfazed by skipper Anthony Laffor’s absence from their squad ahead of Sunday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Zimbabwe.

The Mamelodi Sundowns forward was included in the provisional squad for the encounter against the Warriors but he was forced to pull out after picking up an injury whist playing for his club in an African Champions League match.

The 32-year-old was on the score sheet when Sundowns thumped DR Congo side AS Vita 1-3 last month before picking up a hamstring injury.

Laffor missed the Brazilians 1-2 home defeat to Tunisian giants Esperance last weekend.

The skipper is not the only absentee from the Lone Star as Wada Casablanca striker William Jebor was also ruled out of this tie due to a family bereavement following the passing on of his mother.

However, speaking to journalists soon after Lone Stars’ first delegation of 12 players arrived at the Harare International Airport yesterday, Debbah, who was appointed Liberia coach in September 2015 to build a competitive team, said they have enough replacements.

“We have few players that we will be missing. Apart from Laffor, we have Jebor who plays for Wada Cassablanca, he is out as well,” Debbah said.

“We have four of our starting players who will be missing but that’s all about football we have a good rotation so we know how to take care of it.”

Debbah, a former Liberian international who also played for French giants Paris Saint-Germain and Belgium’s Anderlecht, said that despite his team being dominated by unheralded youngsters, they are desperate to hit the ground hitting with a positive result.

“It’s a very important game and we are prepared for it. My expectation is we are here to win nothing less we are here to win,” Debbah said.

“We have done that before so there is a possibility that we can get a win.” 

Debbah, however, acknowledged that the Warriors are a good side and are bracing for tough match having watched them at the 2017 Afcon finals in Gabon.

“I saw at the Nations Cup they are a very good team, young team just like ours. We have a very young team; we are trying to re-build a team so the majority of players you see are youngsters,” he said.

The Liberians travelled in three batches with the first, which had 12 players touching down in Harare yesterday morning at 11:15am while the second was scheduled to arrive last night with the final batch expected this morning.

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