The Shipping Boys have been exited the 2018 CAF Champions League after bowing to Al-Hilal 3-1 on aggregate in the preliminary round.
The 2016-17 Liberia first division and FA Cup Champions managed a 1-0 win over the Sudanese side in the first leg at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium on Feb 11 and lost 3-0 to their Sudanese counterpart in Omdurman on Tuesday, Feb 20 at the Blue Jewel Stadium.
There were six changes made from the side that got the win in the first leg. Edward Ledlum, Adama Sabally, Hilton Varney and Saah Nyumah were handed place in the first eleven while Gambian striker, Mustapha Njie, Emmanuel Tarpeh and Daniel Woto were named among the substitute.
Coach Tapha Manneh began the match with a 4-23-1 formation where Tommy Songo began in his usual position in goal, Asiamuh Dann at right-back, Hilton Varney at left-back, Kemoh Kamara and Adama Sabally in center defense. Saah Nyumah and Allen Njie played in central midfield while Bully Drammeh, Sheku Sheriff and Edward Ludlum were the three upfront followed by Mark Paye who began as the lone striker.
It was early disappointment for the Shipping Boys at the Blue Jewel as they conceded early in the match. Ahmed Bashir put Hilal ahead in just two minutes into the first half with a header from Azeez Shobola’s cross. Bully Drammeh came close to getting the equalizer in the 11th minute but saw his effort saved by Hilal’s Cameroonian goalkeeper, Maxime Feudjou.
The hosts had more of the possession in the first half with the Shipping Boys finding it difficult to create any clear-cut chance. Unfortunately for LISCR, they were unable to keep the score-line at 1-0 as they conceded lately to fall two goals behind. Bashir got his second o the night in the 45th minute to double Hilal’s lead.
Coach Tapha Manneh made two early changes in the second half as he returned to his normal 4-4-2 formation. Tapha introduced Mustapha Njie and Amdiah Kawah for Saah Nyumah and Bully Drammeh in the 50th and 62nd minute. Unlike the first half, Tapha Manneh’s side looked much better than the first half as they tried to regain their composure. Manneh’s side got a chance to pull a goal back in the second half with a set-piece awarded in the 48th minute. Unfortunately, Sheku Sheriff was unable to repeat his magical set-piece display in the first leg with his shot going wide off target.
Matter got worse for the Boys in the 65th minute when Hilal got the third goal of the match. Sharaf Shaiboub scored within the six-yard box from a scramble ball. Three goals down, the chances of going through got difficult for LISCR that came close to pulling a goal back in the 83rd minute. Mustapha Njie headed in Daniel Woto’s cross and beat Maaxime in goal but saw his efforts denied by the crossbar. Neither team was able to score until the 90th minute as Hilal went on to win the tie 3-1 on aggregate.
Coach Tapha blamed his side defeat for sitting back and allowing the ball to be played in their own half. He further praised the Sudanese side for taking their chances in the match.
“We squandered our chances. We sit back and allow the ball to be played in our half throughout the match. Hilal were brilliant on the pitch. They took their chances and got the goals.”
Meanwhile, the team has returned to Liberia with the 34-man delegation. The team picked up from Khartoum 3:00 AM and arrived in Ethiopia by 6:00 AM where they transited for two hours. From Ethiopia, the team flew to Ghana for the final transit before arriving in Liberia via the James Spriggs Airport by 4:12 PM.
The boys will continue preparations for the 2018 League season.