By Seraj Essul.
Tripoli, 7 June 2013:
The DR Congo held Libya to a 0-0 draw in their World Cup qualifying match in . . .[restrict]Tripoli today. It means that although Libya is in joint first place with Cameroon in Group I at the moment with six points each, Cameroon looks likely to come out top of the Group, especially as Libya has played four of its six games compared to Cameroon’s three.
But for the several thousand Libyan fans at the match, among them Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, former NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdul-Jalil and several Congressmen and women as well as other prominent Libyan political figures, the excitement of having international matches again and simply being there was greater than the disappointment of not beating DR Congo.
The Libyans started quickly with the game and were soon awarded a penalty in the first half. It was taken by Ahmed Osman, the team captain, but saved by Congo’s goalkeeper Robert Kidiaba. The setback did not prevent the crowds from supporting Osman throughout the game.
Encouraged, the Congolese redoubled their efforts and managed to make some bold counter attacks.
In the second half, the Libyans took control of the match showing themselves the stronger team, but they were unable to score.
“We wasted a lot of chances. We weren’t lucky,”said Libyan player Ahmed Al-Turbi afterwards. “We wasted a penalty but we still had a match here in Libya and we will play better next time.”
Sadly, after the referee blew the final whistle there was racist chanting from a few of the Libyan fans who tried to throw bottles of water at the Congolese players. Abdul-Jalil went down the field and he told the fans to stop.
Much was made of security before the match, but during the game it was largely unobtrusive apart from an overhead helicopter occasionally making its presence felt.
Speaking to the Libya Herald afterwards, Abdul-Jalil, a noted football fan, said: “I thank the Libyan Football Federation and the Confederation of African Football and I thank all Libyans for their support and their cooperation.”