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Doeplah death to inspire Liberia to Olympic qualifiers

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

Liberia will be motivated by the death of midfielder Patrick Doeplah when they take on Ivory Coast in the Olympic Games qualifier on Sunday.

The death of the Israel-based ace has cast a dark shadow over the start of the qualifiers for the 2012 Olympics.

Doeplah was discovered dead after arriving in Monrovia this week to prepare for the game in Accra.

Liberia U23 captain Bill Paytoe says they win the game to honour their departed team-mate.

"We will do everything possible to emerge victorious in order for our brother (Doeplah) to rest in peace," Paytoe told BBC Sport.

"Patrick's death is going to inspire the entire team. We will do our best to go all the way to honour the late Patrick Doeplah."

Liberia were one of three qualifiers for the first round who had to play a preliminary tie.

They pipped Sierra Leone on penalties in a West Africa derby following 1-1 stalemates in Freetown and Monrovia.

Ivory Coast, who reached the quarter-finals in Beijing three years ago at their first Olympics appearance, should have hosted the Liberians but bloody post-presidential election unrest caused the switch to Ghana.

Egypt (10 qualifications), Ghana, Nigeria and Morocco (six each) boast the most successful Olympic football records on the continent and all have home advantage in the first-leg schedule.

Botswana face Egypt still stung by a five-goal home drubbing from South Africa in a warm-up, preliminary qualifiers Sudan meet Ghana, Mozambique confront Morocco and Equatorial Guinea play Nigeria.

The Nigerians defeated Ivory Coast en route to the 2008 final which they lost 1-0 to Argentina and collected silver medals after striking gold at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Cameroon followed Nigeria to the top of the podium four years later in Sydney following a shootout with Spain and a home match with Tanzania starts their challenge for a fourth appearance at the Games.

South African officials are in the dark about their home game against Libya with repeated calls to the Tripoli headquarters of their opponents going unanswered in a country engulfed by conflict between pro- and anti-Moamar Gadhafi forces.

After a couple of knock-out rounds, one of the eight survivors will host a tournament from which the top three finishers secure invites to London and the fourth-place team goes into a play-off against Asian opponents.

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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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