Liberia picks new national team coachBy KEMO CHAM in Freetown | Monday, May 7 2012 at 16:23
The Liberian Football Association has appointed a new head coach for the national team.
The unveiling at the weekend of Joseph Kaitu Smith defied a longstanding tradition of appointing foreigners to head the senior team of the Lone Stars.
This development followed weeks of disagreement within Liberian football, between the FA and some aggrieved local clubs on the one hand, and between the FA and football fans who are disgruntled about the way football is being run in the country.
The appointment of a Liberian to manage the Lone Star is to lift qualified Liberians, in accordance with the theme of the Poverty Reduction Strategy II, “Lift Liberians!” said LFA President, Musa Bility.
The death, as a result of illness, of former Lone Star coach, Hungarian Bertalan Bicskie, last year, left a vacuum in Liberian football.
He was succeeded by his Italian deputy, Roberto Landi.
Landi was however dismissed shortly after following misunderstanding with the FA over his commitment to Liberia and his terms of reference.
He was dismissed on grounds that he breached the contract he signed with the LFA.
The ensuing debate over who takes charge of the national team saw FA officials justifying the practice of appointing a foreign coach.
“We are proud to say Coach Smith is the best of the LFA and the best coach we have for now,” Musa Bility said as he unveiled the new coach on Friday.
But there is still grumble over the failure of the LFA to specify the terms of reference of the new coach, who will be heading a management that also include a former Lone Star midfielder, Kelvin Swgbe, as deputy coach.
Mr Smith, a US trained coach, is the third Liberian national coach to have been appointed without a clear-cut contract.
Given the experience of football stakeholders with the death to illness of the former coach, Liberians are insisting that all new coaches being recruited present medical certificates for verification of medical condition.
"The unveiling of the new coach of the Senior Lone Star team is the first phase, his contract, which will include his term of reference, salary and all other things will be ready by next month and we hope to make them public,” stressed the FA president.
"We believe that the Liberian people need to know because they are the employer,” he added.
The new coach vowed to “lift the Lone Star” with the support of his team.
He said his selection of players would be based on local and international, and that “I can’t depend on the local league because it is substandard and will be a bad product.”
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