Football loving Libyans are celebrating the return of international football to their country, after their national team hosted Tunisia in a Total Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier on Thursday (25 March 2021) in Benghazi.
Although the visiting Tunisian team defeated Libya 5-2 at the Martyrs of Benina Stadium, it was a historical match which marked the return of international football home after seven years.
“This is good for us in Libya to have international football return. It has taken hard work to make sure that the facility was okay to host this big game,” said the Libya Football Federation (LFF) President and member of CAF Executive committee Abdulhakim Alshalmani.
He pointed out that they will continue to work hard to ensure that other stadiums like those in Tripoli also meet the requirements to be ready to stage international matches.
Faisal Ali Albadari, Libya skipper said it was a good feeling to be playing international football on home ground. “We are very pleased that we are finally playing back on home soil. Yes, it is sad that fans still cannot come and fill the Stadium because of the challenges of COVID-19, but we are glad about this development,” added Albadari who features for El-Hilal in the Libyan Premier League.
Omar Malik, a Libyan football fan said he was pleased CAF had finally cleared Libya to host games. “We have been missing watching international football for many years. It is not easy following our teams all the time on TV,” he added.
While slightly over 300 fans made it to the stadium to cheer the Libyan team, many around the country were glued on their TVs to celebrate the moment.
LFF Secretary-General, Abdunnaser Ahmed summed it up by saying it was like a party hosting international football again after seven years. “This feels so good to watch the boys on home ground. I know we still have a lot to do to improve and promote football in Libya,” he added