Weah sparks row over choice of Liberia coachBy KEMO CHAM in Freetown | Friday, June 1 2012 at 18:44
Liberian football star-turned-politician George Weah has provoked a national debate after criticising the choice of the Liberian Football Association (LFA) as the national team`s head coach.
The LFA in May unveiled Kaetu Smith as coach of the Lone Stars after a protracted process of searching for a successor to Italian Robert Landi.
Landi had been unceremoniously dismissed over allegations of a lack of commitment to his job.
The Italian`s long time assistant, Thomas Kojo, who like Smith is a Liberian, had been acting as head coach on a temporal basis. Weah said he favours Kojo as he was familiar with only his record of the two.
"I don’t know Smith. I know Kojo quite alright and his qualities. I can’t understand why he was sacked,” the 1995 FIFA World Player of the Year was quoted saying.
He added the LFA`s choice was “a mistake and not a good choice for us and our football.”
But the football association president, Musa Bbility, defended Smith`s appointment as the result of a decision by the LFA Executive Committee.
“Coach Smith is the most qualified Liberian coach,” he said.
He added that the comment by the former world star was “his opinion” and that such was “always welcome”.
Kaetu Smith, who was described by Weah as “a low-profile coach”, spent the last decade in the United States where he is reported to have been coaching youth teams.
He boasts an “A” Licence from the LFA in 1989 and an A Soccer Licence from the US Soccer League.
Thomas Kojo`s supporters were angered by the LFA`s apparent disregard of his demonstrable record at the time of the selection process having led the Lone Stars to a 1-0 victory over Namibia as caretaker coach.
The debate has however taken a political tone.
Local media reports cited sources interpreting the statement of the three-time African Footballer of the Year as politically motivated.
They suggested that as head of the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), Mr Weah was steering public anger against the FA president who is believed to be a ruling Unity Party (UP) member.
Musa Bility is already battling loud calls for his resignation over alleged corruption in the FA.
Although the LFA is yet to finalise the terms of his contract, Smith is having to contemplate his first major task to lead the Lone Stars through the 2014 World Cup and 2013 AFCON qualifiers.
The team has a match at hand with Senegal`s Terenga Lions this Saturday, which will be followed, a week later, by an encounter with Angola at home.
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