Libya hope for happy homecoming
06 June 2013, 12:38
Tripoli - Libya enjoy home advantage on Friday in a competitive game for the first
time since 2010 when they continue the quest for a maiden World Cup
The civil war that ended the four-decade rule of Muammar Gaddafi
prevented the national team playing in the country since winning an
Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Zambia.
But despite having to stage 'home' games in Mali, Egypt, Tunisia and
Morocco, the 'Mediterranean Knights' were ranked 13 in the May Fifa
Now the oil-rich North African country have their sights set on topping
Group I, winning a play-off and claiming one of five places reserved for
Africa at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Democratic Republic of Congo are the opponents this weekend and having
forced a 0-0 draw in Kinshasa last March, Libya can be justifiably
confident of securing maximum points.
"Libyans believe we can go all the way in the World Cup qualifying
competition and reach the finals for the first time," national football
federation president Anwar al-Tashani told reporters.
The 'Knights' trail fallen giants Cameroon by one point in a four-team
mini-league despite having beaten the six-time World Cup qualifiers 2-1
in Tunisia last June.
And they face the 'Indomitable Lions' again this September in Yaounde,
hopefully as group leaders after home fixtures against DR Congo, and
Togo on June 14 in Benina outside Benghazi.
While the 'Knights' enjoy home advantage on successive weekends, Samuel
Eto'o-less Cameroon are away to Togo in Lome Sunday and DR Congo on June
16 in Kinshasa.
Libyan football authorities are taking no chances ahead of the clash
with the Congolese 'Leopards' at the 60 000-capacity national stadium in
Police and soldiers will man checkpoints outside the match venue in a
city where post-uprising armed violence and lawlessness can flare.
"There have been thorough security preparations for the DR Congo game
with scanners to check for weapons," Al-Tashani assured the local media.
Libya played a warm-up game last weekend in Tripoli, outclassing Uganda
3-0 with goals from Mahamed al-Gnadoudi, Salem Ablou and Faisal
al-Badri, and it passed off without incident.
A hamstring injury rules record four-time African Footballer of the Year
Eto'o out of the visit to Togo, but new German coach Volker Finke hopes
the star will be back for the Kinshasa match.
Other big names missing this weekend include strikers Didier Drogba of
Ivory Coast, Demba Ba of Senegal and Mohamed 'Geddo' Nagy of Egypt and
midfielder Andre Ayew of Ghana.
Drogba is out of favour, although coach Sabri Lamouchi told the national
football federation website this week that he planned to recall the
Ivorian talisman this year.
Ivory Coast, one point ahead of Tanzania at the top of Group C with an
anticipated strong Moroccan challenge failing to materialise, meet
modest Gambia Saturday in Bakau.Join in the conversation on our Facebook
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