31 January 2014

Africa: Libya Out to Atone for 1982

Photo: CAF
Libyan striker taking on Ghanaian defender.

The last time Libya national side played in a continental tournament final was at home in 1982 Africa Cup of Nations. Their opponents on that 19th of March in the 11 June Stadium in Tripoli were none other than the Black Stars of Ghana. This is just the beginning of the ironic clash of the two teams who contest the 3rd African Nations Championship final on Saturday 1st February 2014 at Cape Town Stadium.

In 1982 AFCON finals both sides were in the same group and played the opening match which ended in a 2-2 draw. At this year’s CHAN the two sides have been in the same group (C) based in Bloemfontein and played out a 1-1 draw in their group match. George Alhassan put the Blacks stars in front after 35 minutes but Libya hit back with Ali Al-Beshari and the match ended in a 1-1 draw. Ghana would triumph 7-6 on penalties to claim their fourth championship leaving hosts Libya disconsolate at home and thirty-two (32) years later the Mediterranean Knights and the Black Stars play each other in another continental final. With this trail of similarities what are the odds of history repeating itself one might ask?

Libyan team administrative manager, Wail Bazina who was four (4) in 1982 says Libya is ready to banish the memories of 1982 into history and write a new chapter with victory on Saturday.

Bazina told Cafonline.com from Cape town where the Libyans have arrived for the final , that winning the CHAN Cup will be the best present the country could ever wish for at this particular time. “The whole country is behind the team and expectant as well as ready to celebrate and embrace this occasion. It is our dream to win and take the Cup with us to Libya and give people of Libya something to cheer about and uplift the nation” said Bazina. ”It has been a long time since we last played a final and we know what happened then and we certainly would like to get one back against Ghana this time round” added Bazina

Coach Javier Clemente will be forced n to make changes to fill in for defender Osama Ghit and striker Abdelrahman Fetori who both sit out the final dues to suspension after yellow card accumulation. Clemente admitted the Mediterranean Knights had ridden their luck in the semi-final against Zimbabwe and will be hoping that good fortune carries on. Libya will host the 2017 AFCON finals and the Spaniard is assembling a team with that tournament in mind. Reaching CHAN final will certainly have gone someway in justifying the work and time he and his squad have invested in the project for 2017. Their focus for now will be to derail Ghana who contested and lost the first CHAN final in 2009. Ghana will probably start out as favorites but according to Bazina the Libyans enjoys that role of being underdogs and will be aiming to upset Ghana, “This is football anything can happen, we will prepare well and battle hard and see what the outcome will be. We are prepared for and will accept the outcome whatever it is. It is simple a great joy and achievement that we have reached the final, of course we want to win it but even if we don’t it has been a great tournament for us” said Bazina

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