Liberia coach Peter James Butler is aware his team is classified as an underdog in Group K of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations but has warned they might cause an upset.
The former Platinum Stars coach has been in charge of the Lone Stars for two years, assembling a youthful squad without long-serving Anthony Laffor. The ex-West Ham midfielder is unfazed as he prepares to face Morocco, quarterfinalists in the last edition of Afcon earlier this year, and South Africa. Bafana Bafana have shown signs of improvement under Hugo Broos.
“My group is very challenging with Morocco and South Africa. Liberia will be classed as underdogs, but we will do our best.
“Morocco and South Africa are good teams, Liberia are underdogs, but we might upset one or two people,” Butler told FARPost. The west Africans are scheduled to play a ‘home’ tie against Morocco in Casablanca in the second round of group matches on 13 June.
Of course, Liberia have had to play their games outside the country for the last three years, something that could work against them. The Confederation of African Football banned all their stadiums as they failed to meet its standards.
A few months ago, the Lone Stars played Nigeria in Morocco’s Tangier, some 4800 km from Liberia’s capital Monrovia. Butler admits that poses a challenge to their campaign.
“We have not been able to play at home; it’s challenging. It’s quite tough, but we will do our best. I’m glad I’ve given the young lads a chance,” he said. He has previously made it clear that they need to work on their defensive strategy and firepower.
If he does not renew his contract in August, Butler is confident the Liberia FA will have a good template to follow for the next coach to take the game to the next level. He joined them in 2019 and had his deal extended by a further year last August. It remains unclear whether he will renew it come August.
Butler has previously coached in Indonesia, Botswana, Malaysia, Ghana and the United Kingdom. At the height of his playing career, he made 515 appearances for English clubs, including West Ham United, Huddersfield Town and West Bromwich.