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Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Liberia Olympic player Patrick Doeplah dies

By Ibrahim Sannie
With additional reporting by Zoegar Jaynes and Jonathan Paye-Layleh in Monrovia, Liberia

Liberia's Olympic football team
Liberia's Olympic team was preparing for Sunday's tie against Ivory Coast

One of Liberia's most promising young footballers has died while attending an Olympic training camp in his homeland.

Patrick Doeplah, who played his club football in Israel for Hapoel Kfar Saba, was found dead at a house in Monrovria on Tuesday morning.

The 20-year-old midfielder was preparing for Sunday's qualifier against Ivory Coast.

"I have spoken to the players of Kfar Saba [and] they are in heavy shock," said his club chairman Harel Reichman.

"He was in camp with the Liberia team and asked permission to meet his girlfriend and spend time with the family," continued the chairman of the second division side.

"We want to involve the senior people in government so that we can get the properly confirmed because doctors are saying he suffered from cardiac arrest," said Doeplah's agent Dawn Greenberg.

"He was like my child, I'm shocked, it's unreal.

"He called and sent me an SMS yesterday to say he was fine but I am in a total mess now.

"He has a two-year-old child and he is the source of income for his family because everyone knows how hard it is in Africa."

The Liberia Football Association's Director of Press, Henry Flomo, confirmed the death.

This is a serious loss, because he was a rising star

Liberia Football Association's Director of Press, Henry Flomo

"He and others, who arrived [for the game], were with me right here in the office last night happy; he was not looking sick," Flomo said in his FA office, as he stared at a photo of the player ion his computer screen in utter disbelief.

He added that the FA was still awaiting an official medical report from the hospital regarding the actual cause of death.

"But what I can say now for sure is that this is a serious loss, because he was a rising star. We will use it as a motivation to stage a good match against Ivory Coast in Ghana on Sunday."

Doeplah had decided to stay with friends after the hotel accommodation organised for the players was not immediately available.

"He asked that he wanted to spend the night elsewhere and that's where his body was found this morning," an official source who spoke on condition of anonymity because the hospital has not yet released official medical report said.

Doeplah made his debut for the national team in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Zimbabwe last September.

However he had been dropped from the senior side to play for Liberia's Olympic team on Saturday, when they meet the Ivory Coast in a London 2012 qualifier in Accra, Ghana.

Ongoing political violence in Ivory Coast means the Olympic qualifier has been scheduled for the Ghanaian capital Accra on Sunday, but it is now unclear whether the game will go ahead.

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see also
Ivory Coast, Libya matches moved
21 Mar 11 |  African
2012 Olympic qualifying tournament
14 Jan 11 |  African
Zambia's Nsofwa dies in Israel
29 Aug 07 |  African

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