Football returns to Libya

Bulgarian champions CSKA Sofia will become the first foreign team to play on Libyan soil since uprising last year.

Libya football team
Libya continued to play international ties away and reached the final stages of the recent Africa Cup of Nations [EPA]

International football will return to Libya on Monday when local clubs Al Nasr Benghazi and Al Ahli Tripoli meet CSKA Sofia in matches that will mark the first anniversary of the revolution, the Libyan embassy in Bulgaria said.

The 31-times Bulgarian champions, who will also face the two teams on Wednesday, will become the first foreign team to play in the African country after the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi’s rule erupted on February 17 last year.

“We are very grateful to the Bulgarian team, who agreed to participate in this historic event for Libya,” the embassy told news agency Reuters by email on Sunday.

League suspended

The Libyan league has been suspended since last February but clubs have continued to play in continental competitions, by forfeiting their right to play at home in knockout ties, which were reduced to a single match at their opponent’s ground.

The national team used Mali and Egypt as their home grounds in the Nations Cup qualifiers but still managed to reach the finals, which were co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

CSKA visit Libya for a first time since the 1960s when the team took part in an international tournament.

The matches will take place at the “The Heroes of February 17th” stadium in the eastern town of Benghazi, which is about 620 miles east of the capital Tripoli with capacity crowds expected for all games.

The host stadium has been renamed after previously being named after Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s President, who was one of Gadaffi’s closest friends.

Source: Reuters