By Mohammed Assed
Tripoli, 11 June:
The Libyan National team played its second match of the 2014 FIFA World qualifiers against one of . . .[restrict]Africa’s most prominent football teams, Cameroon. All the mainstream media were expecting a win for the Cameroonians managed by Denis Lavagne. But to the euphoria of the Libyans, Hamed Snoussi Hanesh headed the winner goal in thrilling fashion just seconds from the final whistle. Libya won 2-1.
Due to continuing concerns about stability in Libya, the African Football Federation decided that the game should be played in the Tunisian city of Sfax much to the dismay of the Libyan fans who were excited about the prospects of watching Libya’s first official game on home soil after the revolution of 17th of February.
Libyan fans expect a bright future for Libyan football after the fall of the Qaddafi’s despotic regime. It exercised a huge brooding influence over Libyan football, especially through Qaddafi’s sons, Saadi and Mohammed. However, the Libyan National team was able to breath normally once again after the events of 17th of February, by qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012, co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
On Libya entered the game ablaze as Ahmed Zuway scored the opener by slotting in a cool header in the seventh minute following up from a free kick. It took Cameroon as many minutes to gain the equalizer from a beautiful free kick played by Eric Choupo-Moting. The game quickly developed into a tense stalemate. Neither team was able to break the deadlock. Nevertheless, wobbly defensive displays in the second half from Libya opened some opportunities for the Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions. Luckily for the Mediterranean Knights, the Cameroonians wasted their chances. In the 93rd minute, Hamed Snoussi Hanesh headed in the winner in exultant style to send Libya top of its group.
After defeating Cameroon, Libya claimed top spot of Group I with four points to its record. The group also includes the Democratic Republic of Congo and Togo. This latter hosted Libya’s first qualifying group match that ended with a draw.
Libya’s heroics in Sfax did not hide the fact that the team showed a poor display on the field, and evidence to such claims is shared by the bulk of the Libyan fans. With only grit and fighting-spirit to count on, the truth is that Libya may not get very far in the qualifiers.