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Libya beat Ghana to clinch African title

Celebrations erupt on streets of Tripoli and other cities as the country wins its first international football title.

Last updated: 03 Feb 2014 07:15
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Libya have won their first international football title by beating favourite and West African power Ghana on penalties in the final of the African Nations Championship in South Africa.

Libya won 4-3 in a penalty shoot-out on Saturday after the teams drew 0-0 after extra time at Cape Town Stadium.

The victory prompted celebrations on the streets of Tripoli and other Libyan cities. The players were also greeted warmly by supporters upon their arrival at the team's hotel in Cape Town.

The African Nations Championship is the continent's lower-level tournament for home-based players, but that mattered little for the Libyans.

Mohamed Abdaula, Libya's goalkeeper, saved the first two Ghanaian penalties to help the North Africans clinch victory in a tournament they were initially meant to host but had to give up to South Africa because of unrest at home.

Historic win

Libya's best result before Saturday's triumph was reaching the final of the main African Cup on home soil in 1982, when it lost to Ghana on penalties.

It handed over hosting rights for this tournament and last year's full continental championship following the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and because of the ongoing violence.

But under Javier Clemente, the former Spain boss, Libya's footballers drew with Ghana in the group stage and beat Gabon and Zimbabwe in shootouts in the knockouts to progress to the final.

In the final, Libya held their own and were even the more dangerous team in some stages and had two clear chances to score in extra time when Elmutasem Abuschnaf headed over from close range and Abdelsalam Omar also failed with a header.

Stephen Adams, Ghana's goalkeeper, made important saves throughout the 120 minutes and also blocked two Libyan spot-kicks to send the shootout to sudden death after the sides were level at 3-3 after five kicks each.

Ahmed El Trbi scored for Libya and Joshua Tijani pulled his penalty wide for the crucial miss, confirming Libya's victory even though Mohamed Benouza, the Algerian referee, was not immediately certain that it was over and there was a slight delay before the Libyans could celebrate a meaningful feel-good moment for their long-troubled nation.

Libya will host the main African Cup of Nations in 2017.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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