African Cup of Nations 2012: Libya
Intro into team
Libya are yet to make an impression on global football. They have never qualified for a World Cup and before 2012 had only taken part in two African Nations, in 1982 where, as hosts, they finished runners up to Ghana on penalties and in Egypt in 2006 where they failed to get out of a tough group including the Ivory Coast, Morocco and the hosts.
In recent times they have been forced to play games behind closed doors and outside of their homeland because of the civil war and for security reasons but results have improved, leading to an unbeaten record in qualification for the 2012 Cup of Nations.
Brazilian coach Marcos Paquetá has claimed his side are playing for a ‘new government and a new country’ as well as success on the pitch.
How did they qualify?
Undefeated on the pitch and through much turmoil off it. The Libyan football team gave the people some hope during last year’s civil war in which dictator Colonel Gaddafi was removed from power and ultimately killed.
They won all their ‘home’ games (the second two played in Mali and Egypt respectively because of the civil war) by three goals or more against Zambia, Comoros and Mozambique and drew all three away games, only conceding one goal in all six games.
Zambia topped the group by a point but Libya went through as one of the two best runners up in the group stage.
Marcos Paquetá has had reasonable success in his homeland Brazil, winning titles with Fluminese and Flamengo. He also won the Under 17 and Under 20 World Cup with Brazil before having success coaching in the Arab world.
Samir Aboud – 39 – Goalkeeper. Libya’s captain has represented his country 39 times and is extremely accomplished having won 18 trophies in his career with Al-Ittihad including nine Libyan Premier Leagues. He is also the only player in the squad to have featured in the semi- finals of the African Champions League. His experience is invaluable.
Djamal Mahamat – 26 – Midfielder. The only member of Libya’s squad to play in Europe, Mahamat had a rather unspectacular start to his career, failing in trials with Hartlepool and Bradford before finding his feet in Portugal. At Braga he has become an important member of the team that came runners up in last season’s Europa League.
Mohammad Za’abia – 22 – Striker. A recent signing for Kuwaiti side Al Arabi, Za’abia is a decent young prospect with seven goals for his national team to his name already. He was once sent off in the African Champions League for attempting to assault a referee and was subsequently banned for a year.
How far can they go?
With a group including Senegal, Zambia and co-hosts Equatorial Guinea they have a good chance of qualifying for the knockout stages. If they can avoid the Ivory Coast in the quarter finals, they have a decent chance at making the last four.