Nohan Kenneh primed for Liberia involvement as Hibs midfielder insists he'll never forget his roots
The 20-year-old is currently on loan at Ross County until the end of the season – his first in Scottish football – and revealed his declaration for the country of his birth earlier this month ahead of the international break.
When Kenneh did his first interviews as a Hibs player he didn’t touch much upon his early childhood in Liberia, mostly because he doesn’t have too many memories of his time in the West African country. But he always kept in touch with the family with whom he lived before joining his father in England.
“The situation in Liberia wasn’t ideal because there was a civil war going on. A lot of people died, and I was growing up all around that. Because of how old I was, I don’t think I really understood what was happening, but obviously people were telling me about it,” Kenneh told the Hibs website.
“My main memories were just playing football. After school, I’d always be playing football somewhere. Everyone knows the living situation in Africa; it’s not great, but the people adapt to it. My family worked really hard and had to be resilient. Some people struggle to make ends meet there. My dad left Liberia when I was young and moved to England – he wanted to come over to make sure it was okay for me. He knew we would have a better life in a much safer environment. During that time, I lived with my auntie and uncle; they treated me like family, and I’ll always be grateful for that.”
The former Leeds youngster still has family in the country who he keeps in regular contact with, and has been back countless times since leaving as a child partly to catch up with his relatives but also to learn more about his homeland.
“My auntie and uncle are still in Liberia, but I keep in touch with them,” he explained. “I always tell them how important they were in my life and every day I pray that they are okay and safe; they’re so proud of me. I go back to Liberia whenever I get the opportunity to see my family and to learn even more about the country I was born in. I will never forget my roots.”
Kenneh could make his debut for the Lone Stars when they play South Africa in an African Cup of Nations qualifying double-header on March 24 and March 28, with the first encounter in Johannesburg and the second in Monrovia.
Liberia lost their only qualifier to date 2-0 to Morocco in Casablanca but with fourth team Zimbabwe disqualified after FIFA banned the country’s football association, Liberia have the two games against South Africa and a return meeting with Morocco – but with Morocco topping the table so far with six points from two games and the top two teams advancing, Kenneh and Liberia will need to hope for a result or two against South Africa to keep alive their hopes of qualification.