George "Oppong" Weah
Delivers... Yet Again!
By James W. Harris
July 16, 2001
Just a fortnight ago, we expressed in the strongest language possible, our anger and outrage about the way in which our "beloved" Lone Star and particularly its star striker, George "Oppong" Weah, were treated by a group of so-called "frustrated" Liberian soccer fans following their country's 2 - 1 defeat to Ghana's Black Stars on July 1 in Monrovia.
We felt then, and even now, that in order for Liberia to swiftly pull through its present crises, it would entail the personal sacrifices and commitment on the part of every Liberian, regardless of his or her present calling in life.
We also said that the most important lesson all Liberians should have learned from the ugly episode of the past weeks was that there certainly was "HONOR IN DEFEAT". This point could not be sufficiently emphasized, because the acceptance of this fact, means that Liberians must now proudly lift their heads up high, even in the face of humiliating defeat like the one Ghana recently gave us.
Almost completely devastated by the lost and the wicked action by some crazy Liberian soccer fans, the Lone Star and "Oppong" have shown just what "patriotism" is all about by trashing Sierra Leone 1 - 0 in their group's latest round of World Cup qualifying encounter that was played last Saturday in Freetown.
Prior to this "big match", it was reported that considerable tension was brewing amongst soccer fans on both sides of the border, as the pride of Liberia and Sierra Leone was once again being challenged.
"Police Prepares for Liberia Match" and "We Would Crush Liberia Says Leone Stars Coach", were at least two banner headlines carried by the Concord Times newspaper of Sierra Leone, demonstrating the importance of the match.
Meanwhile, though far away, The Perspective magazine joyfully joined other die-hard Lone Star fans across the globe in urging their team to just "Go for it!" and win one for their beloved Liberia.
According to reports reaching here, the game was as tense as it was expected, with neither the Lone Star nor the Leone Stars gaining the upper hand on the pitch. This continued throughout the first half, but Liberia still held on to its trump card - George "Oppong" Weah, who had not yet even entered the picture.
As the main source of financial support, technical-director, coach and player of the Lone Star, "Oppong" had probably decided earlier on before the match began to "sit on the bench" for a while and watched eagerly from the sideline, perhaps strategizing for his team.
But when the first half ended in a draw, and Liberia, which has a better chance of going to the World Cup compared to Sierra Leone, started to see its hopes and dreams gradually fading away by the minute, George "Oppong" Weah, as always, had seen enough and decided then to take the matter into his own hands.
It was at this point that he personally took to the field of play amidst loud applause, to the delight of his many fans. He was once again on a mission to salvage his country's battered pride, which has been damaged almost irreparably by the Taylor regime and other evil forces.
As the pressure mounted between soccer fans from both Liberia and Sierra Leone for either country to come up with a decisive victory, "Oppong", somehow, as if through magic, found the back of the Leone Stars' net with a classic header in the 75th minute, thereby, breathing life right back into his dying country's hope of qualifying for the World Cup tournament for the very first time. His lone goal did it for Liberia!
Who else could have "delivered" in such a timely manner and brilliant fashion, but for George "Oppong" Weah. Now, what do the so-called "pundits" that were recently quoted by the Liberian Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism have to say? We certainly hope that they are now walking in shame with their heads bowed down in Monrovia for being so ungrateful and unpatriotic.
For us, we surely will continue to celebrate and enjoy this victory because it really belongs to all "patriotic" Liberians.
And what makes this particular victory even more enjoyable is the fact that the United Nations (UN) wasted no time in upholding a recent travel ban on leading Liberian government officials, like, Foreign Minister, Monie Captan, one of President Charles Taylor's main collaborators, who had asked earlier during the week for a waiver to enable him to travel to Freetown to physically witness the game.
But even if the UN had lifted the ban temporarily so that Mr. Captan could have gone to the game, doesn't it say something about his judgment? Did he really have the "guts" to travel to neighboring Freetown and look into the eyes of so many Sierra Leoneans whose lives he had helped to destroy because of his government's close involvement with the barbaric "limb-chopping" Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels? He has to be conscienceless and brave to do such a thing at this time.
Or, could it be that the Liberian government, through Mr. Captan, was simply testing the UN's resolve to enforce the sanctions? Whatever reason he might have had on his mind, he definitely got his answer: NO - OUTRIGHT NO. Stay just where you and the rest belong, HOME.
For acting so decisively and quickly, we must congratulate the UN and urge it very strongly to continue to keep the "lid" on the Liberian government until it at least changes its ugly ways. The core leadership of Liberia actually deserves more than sanctions and embargoes for what it has done collectively to the country, as well as to Sierra Leone and the whole Western region for that matter.
Because of their role in destabilizing the region, Liberian government officials and so-called opposition leaders, like, former ULIMO-K warlord, Alhaji G. V. Kromah, among others, must always be kept closely in check and punished severely whenever they do wrong against the will of the people that they claim to represent. This is the only way to prevent them from causing further havoc in Liberia and elsewhere in the region.
As for our "darling" Lone Star and its world-renowned skipper, George "Oppong" Weah, we say, THANK YOU and THANK YOU for a job well done. You all could not have served your beloved country any better than this.
And for your many sacrifices, tireless efforts and individual commitments, we know that Liberia will forever be grateful to each of you. You all are our "HEROS" and have given Liberians a reason to be proud.
Although the Taylor government and others will do their very best to take full credit for your hard work and successes, but we also are convinced that each of you are smart enough so as not to allow yourselves to be used (or better, misused) by the country's morally bankrupt leadership or other Liberian politicians for their personal gains. Whatever credit they want, we are sorry to say that they will have to achieve it on their own merits.
How the Lone Star's victory will enhance the present Liberian government's image internationally, as some of its officials believe, is anyone's guess.
But by "delivering" this huge win to Liberia, "Oppong" and his team of dedicated Liberian players have just guaranteed themselves a special place in the country's history books, whether or not they go all the way to Korea and Japan in 2002.
One thing is certain, though: The world knows exactly who gave Liberia something to be proud of and smile about - George "Oppong" Weah and his Lone Star. Their win could not have been any sweeter, especially for a team that is so deserving of our gratitude and thanks.
We say resoundingly, therefore, Long Live Our LONE STAR, and of course, the man who made it all happen, skipper Weah.
Finally, this single act of "patriotism" by our team should challenge all Liberians to immediately "deliver" in order to keep their country on life support.