The Libyan National Football Team, The Mediterranean Knights, the rebels of the football field. They have been the source of much celebration and happiness by the Libyan people in post-gaddafi, free Libya. Seeing the Libyan team play under the new flag shortly after the liberation of Tripoli was a sign to the Libyan people that Libya was truly free.
Although the celebrations were cut short this time, as the Libyan team’s participation in the Arab Cup ended with them creeping painfully close to the title only for it to fall just out of their grasp as Morocco claimed the trophy. The final was thrilling as the Moroccans took an early lead but the Libyans clearly showed by no means were they going to give up for the full 90 minutes and proved it by scoring a hard-fought equalizer in the 89th minute. Extra time would show no winner and luck had to play its part as Libya lost the penalty-shootout. The players gave their 100% not for themselves, but for the country, and several of the players were in tears at the final whistle. I, for one, am proud of them despite the loss.
Seeing the Libyan team play under the new flag shortly after the liberation of Tripoli was a sign to the Libyan people that Libya was truly free.
Libya entered the Arab Nations Cup on the back of good form in recent FIFA World Cup 2014 Qualifiers as they tied Togo away and beat Cameroon in very dramatic fashion in the Tunisian city of Sfax, after famous striker Ahmed Zuway continued his form by scoring his second goal of the qualifiers and first of the match in under ten minutes after kick off by yet again proving his aerial prowess with a trademark header. Cameroon scored again within ten minutes after a wrong decision from the referee awarded them a free kick. Cameroon dominated possession in the second half with the exhausted looking Libyan team defending well and offering them almost no chance to score. With the match set up to end 1-1 a corner kick in plus time found Hamed Snousi who dramatically poked in to award Libya the crucial win in their race to break their record as the only North African team never to have qualified for the World Cup.
Since the liberation of the country the team has continuously proved themselves against the odds by qualifying for their third African Cup of Nations and giving an honorable performance despite bowing out after the first round. Brazilian manager Marcos Paqueta played a significant role in Libya’s achievements yet he was surprisingly sacked as the Libyan FA decided to opt for a manager from the country to lead the team instead. In spite of the managerial change the Libyan team continued to show good form and have proven themselves as a driving force in qualifying for the upcoming World Cup.
Libya have shown fight and passion in its matches, after being forced to play in a neutral ground again after FIFA didn’t grant them permission to play in their home ground. Initially they were scheduled to play behind closed doors but after an appeal they were allowed only 5,000 supporters to attend the match, but these supporters made their voices loud and clear and expressed their belief and support in the team by giving them as much of a boost they can, and who knows? With luck we might just see Libya in Brazil two years from now.
Anything is possible especially now that we are representing Free Libya!