Courtesy: Tripoli PostLibyan Futsal National Team Through to World Cup Finals in Thailand30/06/2012
Following their 6-4 victory over South Africa in Johannesburg, reigning African champions Libya have qualified to the FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012. They will represent Africa along with North Africa neighbours, Egypt and Morocco. All three won the right to won the right to be the African representatives at tournament. Slated for November 1-18.
Last year, the Confederation of African Football, CAF, was forced to cancel the African Futsal Championship following Burkina Faso's withdrawal as hosts, so the three berths for the World Cup had to be decided through a home-and-away campaign. A number of teams withdrew from the qualifying round, therefore Libya and Morocco were forced to play just two games, and Egypt three.
Libya are very highly regarded in the world of Futsal. They won the African championship in 2008 when the event was hosted in Libya are Africa's top-ranked team, and are placed 21st in the world rankings list.
In the last edition of the world event, Libya now left Rio without winning a game, but won plenty of admirers for the way they played. In that torunament Libya lost 2-4 to Czechoslovakia, 2-4 to Iran, 0-3 to Spain, and drew 3-3 with Uruguay.
To qualify to the finals of the seventh edition of the World Cup finals in Thailand, Libya had to meet South Africa twice in the qualifiers. In the first game, that was played in Tunisia, Libya won 4-0 and took the four-goal lead to the return away tie in Johannesburg. At the end of the two-leg event, they emerged comfortable 10-4 victors on aggregate.
In the game in Johannesburg, Libya took a two-goal interval lead to give South Africa a mountain to climb after the break. Although the hosts did manage to claw their way back into the game by scoring four times without reply, Libya upped the pace towards the end and won 6-4 on the day 10-4 on aggregate.
All the Libyan sport fans were highly delighted with the success, but more so the team's Spanish coach, Pablo Prieto. He said he was very happy at the achievement and qualification after a very good match.
“We had some difficulties, especially in the beginning of the second half, but we overcame these by defending against our opponents in their half. I am very happy with the win and with qualifying for the World Cup finals in Thailand,” he said.
Abdulsallam Sharada was a hat-trick hero for Libya; while Mohamed Shebli and Mahame Rajab scored two of the other goals, while goalkeeper Ramzi netted the final one when he made the most of a South African power-play to score into an empty goal.
As for Egypt, the Pharaohs did most of the hard work in the first leg of their final round encounter against Nigeria at home.
The West Africans, who only arrived in Egypt in the early hours of the morning on the day of the match, managed to restrict the damage to a 1-0 deficit at half-time, but then gave away a further seven goals as the Egyptians ran out 8-2 winners with hat-tricks by Ahmed Yosri and Moataz Sami and Ahmed Abou-Serie settling for a brace.
Israel Banigo and Kabiru Olumide replied for the visitors, who did not play the second leg and withdrew from the competition, giving Egypt an automatic place at the finals.
In Rabat, Morocco also had a four-goal lead after their 6-2 victory in Mozambique, but unlike the Libyans, Morocco came dangerously close to throwing it away as they allowed Mozambique a 4-1 win in the return leg. It was only Adil Habil's goal that gave the North Africans a 7-6 aggregate victory and a place at the finals.
The goalscorer said the players were not used to playing indoor in front of such a large crowd. "We struggled with the pressure and missed many opportunities because of a lack of concentration." Captain Yahia Baya added: "We will be playing our first World Cup in Thailand, thanks to our victory in Maputo. Now our coach Hicham Dguig will help us prepare and correct our mistakes."
In Thailand, Libya will join the top five finishers at the 2012 AFC Futsal Championship Iran, Japan, Australia, Kuwait and Thailand (they qualify automatically as host), Italy, Czech Republic, Russia, Spain, Serbia, Portugal and Ukraine from Europe, OFC's representatives Solomon Islands, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Para-guay fron CONMEBOL, and either Canada or El Salvador who are playing to represent CONCACAF. The decision could be known Saturday.
The FIFA Futsal World Cup is the international championship for futsal, an indoor version of association football. It is held every four years, on the even year between two FIFA World Cups.
Posted by Luca Ranocchiari