Libya national football team
|Nickname(s)||The Mediterranean Knights|
|Association||Libyan Football Federation|
|Sub-confederation||UNAF (North Africa)|
|Head coach||Javier Clemente|
|Captain||Ahmed Saad Osman|
|Most caps||Samir Aboud|
|Home stadium||Tripoli International Stadium|
|FIFA ranking||61 9|
|Highest FIFA ranking||36 (September 2012)|
|Lowest FIFA ranking||187 (July 1997)|
|Highest Elo ranking||46 (August 1985)|
|Lowest Elo ranking||124 (June 2003)|
| Egypt 10–2 Libya
(Egypt; July 29, 1953)
| Libya 21–0 Muscat and Oman
(Iraq; April 6, 1966)
| Egypt 10–2 Libya
(Egypt; July 29, 1953)
|Africa Cup of Nations|
|Appearances||3 (First in 1982)|
|Best result||Runner-up, 1982|
The Libya national football team (Arabic: منتخب ليبيا لكرة القدم) is the national association football team of Libya and is controlled by the Libyan Football Federation. Libya has never qualified for the FIFA World Cup, but has made it to three Africa Cup of Nations; the first was in 1982 where they finished runners-up as hosts of the tournament. The team's second participation did not come until 2006, which was the first time the side qualified without hosting the tournament. The squad failed to progress from the group stages in 2006, as was the case in their third participation in 2012. Libya finished runners-up in the 1964 and 2012 Arab Nations Cup and came third in the 1966 edition in Baghdad.
Libya's national team is considered one of the stronger teams in Africa and the Arab world, particularly in recent years. The good performances recorded in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations under Brazilian Coach Marcos Paqueta saw the team record their first win in the tournament outside of Libya in their final match against Senegal. This saw their FIFA world rankings rise to the highest it had ever been at 53, which later rose again to 36 in September 2012.
- 1 History
- 2 Rivalries
- 3 Results and Upcoming Fixtures
- 4 Current squad
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Libya's national team was first initiated in 1918, but did not play an official international until 3 August 1953, when they defeated Palestine 5–2 in the first Pan Arab Games in 1953. The first manager ever to manage the Libyan national team was Masoud Zantouny, and the first foreign manager was Englishman James Bingham, who took charge of the Libyan national team for the 1961 Pan Arab Games. The first player ever to score for the Libyan national team in an official international was Mukhtar Ghonaay.
The first penalty ever scored by a member of the national team was in the 1953 Pan Arab Games group stage; in the match against Egypt, Ali Zantouny scored in the 3–2 defeat. The national team's first participation in the Arab Cup was in 1964, the second edition of the competition, held in Kuwait.
The first ever player to score for the Libyan national team in a non-official international was Mustapha Makki in a warm-up friendly played prior to the 1953 Pan Arab Games tournament, played against Palestine in Alexandria in 1952. The national team's first attempt to qualify for an Olympic football tournament was in 1967, where they played their first qualification match against Niger in an attempt to qualify for the 1968 Olympic football tournament in Mexico City.
Libya first entered the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in 1970. Their early attempts failed, but during the 1980s the national side strengthened. The country's geopolitical position, however, affected the football team, who had to withdraw from qualifying for the 1982 and 1990 World Cups.
Libya came closest to qualifying for the world cup in 1986. They came to within a game of reaching the finals in Mexico. After winning their match against Sudan in their first game, the Libyans beat Ghana in the next round before taking on Morocco for a place at the finals. Morocco won the first game 3–0 and went through, even though Libya won the return leg 1–0.
After not entering the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cup competition, Libya came back in the qualifying competition for Korea/Japan. The Libyans advanced to the second round at the expense of Mali, who were beaten 4–3 on aggregate.
In the group stage, Libya managed only two draws in eight games, however. The qualifying tournament increased the profile of Libya's captain Al-Saadi Gaddafi, son of national leader Muammar Gaddafi, and he received a contract with former Serie A Italian club Perugia shortly afterwards.
In the qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, a 9–0 two-legged victory against São Tome and Principe put the Libyans through to the group stage. However, during these two games Al-Saadi Gaddafi was banned when he failed a drug test.
A difficult group followed containing Egypt, Cameroon and Côte d'Ivoire, the eventual group winners and qualifiers for the World Cup. However, The knights were able to secure good results against these sides, as they beat Egypt 2–1 in Tripoli, and held Cameroon and Côte d'Ivoire to 0–0 draws, helping them to a 4th place finish and a place at the 2006 African Cup of Nations finals in Egypt.
- 1986 FIFA World Cup qualification (CAF) (The closest Libya came to qualifying for the World Cup).
African Cup Of Nations
The biggest football tournament to be held in Libya was the 1982 African Cup of Nations. Libya qualified automatically as hosts and were put in a group alongside Ghana, Cameroon and Tunisia. The opening match of the tournament saw the hosts take on Ghana in Tripoli in a 2–2 draw. A 2–0 win over Tunisia and a goalless draw against Cameroon saw Libya topping the group.
In the semi-finals, Libya came from behind to beat Zambia 2–1 and set up another match with Ghana, this time in the final on 19 March. Ghana scored first in the 35th minute, but Libya equalised in the 70th. This was followed by a tense period of extra time in which no goals were scored. In a long penalty shootout, Ghana came out triumphant 7–6.
Libya's second African Cup of Nations saw a return to the higher levels of the international footballing scene at the 2006 African Cup of Nations finals in Egypt. They qualified for the competition after a goalless draw with Sudan in their ninth qualifying match.
Libya were drawn in Group A with Egypt (the hosts and eventual winners), 2006 World Cup-qualifiers Côte d'Ivoire and Morocco. Libya lost 3–0 to Egypt in Cairo, then lost 2–1 to Côte d'Ivoire. A goalless draw against Morocco saw Libya finish bottom of the group.
Faouzi Benzarti became the coach of the national team in 2006. He failed to lead the team to the 2008 African Nations Cup, despite being drawn in what was seen as an easy group along with DR Congo, Namibia and Ethiopia; away defeats in Addis Ababa and Windhoek prevented qualification.
The next challenge for the Libyans was the qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. They were drawn in Group 5 along with Gabon, Lesotho and Ghana: Libya were eliminated on goal difference after losing their final match against Gabon.
Libya had a chance to come back from World Cup misfortune during the qualifiers for the 2009 African Championship of Nations. They overcame Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco to go through to the tournament, but Libya finished bottom of their group after losing to Congo DR and drawing with Ghana and Zimbabwe. Benzarti was sacked, and Serbian Branko Smiljanić was appointed on December 13. In July 2010, Brazilian coach Marcos Paqueta was appointed the head coach of the Libyan team, and signed a four year contract ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Post Gaddafi Era
Libya played its first match after the Battle of Tripoli (and thus the end of the Gaddafi era in Libya) on 3 September 2011, with a new uniform sporting the National Transitional Council flag of Libya.
The match, part of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualification campaign, resulted in a 1–0 victory over Mozambique. The historic goal was scored by Rabee'a al Laafi. Like Libya's previous home match, a 3–0 defeat of Comoros in qualifying, played in Stade 26 mars in Bamako, Mali, a relocation was necessary due to the on-going Libyan civil war, and so the Petro Sport Stadium in Cairo, Egypt became the venue. The match was played behind closed doors for security reasons.
Prior to the team's final game in the qualification campaign, against Zambia, coach Marcos Paquetá claimed that the team was now "not only playing for football success but for a new government and a new country". The match was played on 8 October 2011, and resulted in a 0–0 draw which was good enough for both teams to qualify. Paquetá and his team danced and celebrated afterwards.
In November 2011 the team travelled to the United Arab Emirates to play a friendly match against Belarus organized by FIFA and broadcast Dubai Sports. The team members, along with the Libyan national Chess team, also attended an event at the Libyan Consulate in Dubai organized to honour their contribution to their country in the field of sports.
On 7 June 2013, Libya met DR Congo on its first match on home ground in two years.
2012 Africa Cup of Nations
Having qualified, Libya were drawn into Group A with co-hosts Equatorial Guinea, qualification rivals Zambia and pre-tournament favourites Senegal, Paquetá's men faced a tough task in progressing from the group.
The Mediterranean Knights' first game, the tournament's opening match, saw them lose to an 87th minute winner from ex-Real Madrid winger Javier Ángel Balboa. Despite this setback, Libya's performances improved as the tournament went on; they went on to secure a 2–2 draw with Zambia in terrible conditions at the Estadio de Bata, before a brace from Ihaab al Bousseffi guided them to a famous 2–1 victory over Senegal, their first Nations Cup win in 30 years and a first on foreign soil. A respectable return of four points from three games was, sadly, not enough for Libya to progress, as they bowed out at the group stage.
The team will certainly learn from such an experience, however; despite a fairly conservative approach in the opening match, Libya began to offer more going forward, with Ahmed Sa'ad winning the man of the match award for the games against Zambia and Senegal as he showcased his obvious talent on a continental and global stage.
With six members of the squad aged 30 and above, notably Samir Aboud, for whom the match against Senegal brought down the curtain on a long international career, the focus now turns to the future of Libyan football; although domestic football has yet to be rescheduled following a year-long hiatus, qualification for next year's Cup of Nations could see a new-look Libya side enter the fray in South Africa.
2014 African Nations Championship
Libya drew against Ghana in a very tough and tiring match. Extra time was given ( two 15 minutes), however both teams failed to score. It was taken to penalty shootouts, where the Libyan team scored the first three penalties, missed two others and scored the final sixth (making it 4 in total, that they scored) and their Ghanaian opponents missed the first two, scored the next three then missed the final sixth penalty (resulting in 3 penalties scored). The match finished (0-0) and was won by the Mediterranean Knights by penalties (4-3).
Libya's only real rivalries are with its fellow North African footballing nations, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt and, mainly, Tunisia. Matches between Libya and any one of these opponents are highly charged encounters, although the rivalry is not considered intense due to the gulf in quality between the sides. Libya defeated Egypt 2–1 in a World Cup qualifier on 8 October 2004, however they have never managed to defeat the Pharaohs on their own turf. The rivalry was rekindled at the 2007 Pan Arab Games, where the teams drew 0–0; Egypt eventually claimed the gold medal on goal difference from the Libyans.
Libya's last clash with Morocco was at the 2006 African Nations Cup, where it finished goalless (However, Libya also recently contested a fiery two-legged play-off tie for the 2009 African Championship of Nations, which Libya won 4–3 on aggregate). The height of the rivalry was in the 1980s, where a strong Libya side had its World Cup '86 dreams crushed by a resurgent Morocco side. The Moroccans won the play-off 3–1 on aggregate, and progressed to the knockout stage, where they were defeated by West Germany.
World Cup record
|FIFA World Cup record|
| 1930 to
|Did not enter|
|1970||Did not qualify|
|1974||Did not enter|
|1978||Did not qualify|
|1982||Withdrew during qualifying|
|1986||Did not qualify|
|1990||Withdrew during qualifying|
|1994||Disqualified due to UN sanctions|
|1998||Did not enter|
| 2002 to
|Did not qualify|
|2018||To Be Determined|
Libya is the only North African country never to qualify for a World Cup.
Africa Cup of Nations record
|Africa Cup of Nations|
|1957||Did not enter||1976||Did not enter||1994||Did not enter||2012||Round 1|
|1959||1978||1996||2013||Did not qualify|
|1963||1982||Runners up||2000||Did not qualify||2017||Qualified|
|1965||1984||Did not qualify||2002|
|1968||Did not qualify||1986||2004|
|1970||Did not enter||1988||Withdrew||2006||Round 1|
|1972||Did not qualify||1990||2008||Did not qualify|
|1974||Withdrew||1992||Did not enter||2010|
- Red bordered cells indicates Cup was held in Libya.
Results and Upcoming Fixtures
The following squad has been selected for the 2014 African Nations Championship.
Cap and goals updated as 1 February 2014. Note: Caps and goals may be incomplete for certain players, therefore being inaccurate.
- 22 March 2009, LFF Sacks Fauzi Benzarti, Tripoli Post, Accessed March 22, 2009.
- لجنة المنتخبات تقدم المدرب الجديد للمنتخب الى وسائل الإعلام (Arabic) LFF 2009-12-13
- Brazilian Paqueta signs to coach Libya
- 4 September 2011, Libyan football enters post-Gaddafi era, BBC News Online, Accessed September 5, 2011.
- 7 October 2011, Libya eye unlikely qualification, BBC Sport, Accessed October 8, 2011.
- 8 October 2011, Zambia, Libya make Nations Cup cut, BBC Sport, Accessed October 8, 2011.
- 29 November 2011, Libyan National Football Team and the Libyan National Chess Team Reception, [SmugMug Sohail Nakhooda], Accessed 30 November 2011.