Libya’s African Cup of Nations campaign drew to a close on Sunday night despite victory over a beleaguered Senegal.
Ihab Albusaifi grabbed both of Libya’s goals, either side of a Deme Ndiaye strike, to condemn Senegal to their third straight group defeat.
Libya, needing a win to have any hope of qualifying for the knockout rounds, finish third in the group after their first victory in the tournament for 30 years. As for Senegal, their sorry campaign closes with a whimper, as a third successive 2-1 loss means one of the pre-tournament favourites go home without a point.
Libya got off to a fantastic start as Albusaifi grabbed the first of his brace after just five minutes, poking the ball under Senegal keeper Khadim Ndiaye.
Deme Ndiaye, scorer in the defeat to Zambia, equalized shortly afterwards in the 11th minute with a near post header from Mamadou Niang’s corner in an eventful opeining to the game.
Senegal pressed further after the goal, winning a series of corners and stifling Libya’s fluency. Despite this, the Lions of Teranga couldn’t find a second goal and restore some much need pride.
The second half was far more of a stop-start affair, as both sides were guilty of niggly fouls that disrupted the game’s rhythm. Libya did eventually rediscover their fluency, with midfielder Ahmed Sa’ad Osman becoming more influential in the game.
Libya got their reward with a second, match winning goal, as Albusaifi smashed the ball home from just inside the penalty area to grab his second goal of the game and send the Libyans home delighted.
Their delight turned to disappointment soon after the final whistle though, as news about Zambia’s win over Equatorial Guinea came through, meaning the Chipolopolo finish as group winners ahead of the co-hosts.
As for Senegal, they will want to erase from memory a campaign that promised so much but returned so little..