Algeria top Libya in 2013 CAN qualifier
By Abdou Tajeddine for Magharebia in Algiers – 10/09/12
Algeria took a big step towards qualifying for 2013 Africa Cup of Nations after beating Libya 1-0 Sunday (September 9th) in Casablanca.
El Arbi Hillel Soudani scored the lone match goal for the Desert Foxes in the 88th minute. The second leg match is due to be played in Algiers between October 12th and 14th. The winners will secure a slot in next year's tournament.
The first half of the game was dominated by the Algerians, who launched many attempts to reach the Libyan goal through Sofiane Feghouli, Islam Slimani, Djamel Eddine Mesbah, and Adlene Guedioura. However, these attempts didn't bear any fruit.
Meanwhile, the Libyans had two scoring opportunities through their star players Ahmed Saad Osman and Ahmed Zuway, but they failed to score from either. The first half ended in a goalless draw between the two teams.
At the beginning of second half, Algeria's coach Vahid Halilhodzic had to replace injured Liassine Cadamuro-Bentaïba with Saad Tedjar. Meanwhile, the Libyans had a noticeable wakeup at this stage, launching several attempts. However, the players' bad concentration and hastiness prevented them from scoring.
Away from the competition, the match was played in an atmosphere of sportsmanship. However, the end of the match was marred when Libya's Ali Salama tried to assault Algeria's Rafik Djebbour before organisers managed to nip the crisis in the bud.
The Moroccan authorities and fans helped the two sides play the match in a brotherly atmosphere by designating a group of Raja Casablanca fans to support the Algerians and a group of Wydad Casablanca fans to support the Libyans. Many Algeria fans were unable to attend the game because of the closed Algeria-Morocco border.
Meanwhile, Algeria's captain Mehdi Lacen read a message before the match urging the fans to show sportsmanship. Libya's captain Ahmed Saad did the same.
Before the match, the Algerian payers took advantage of the Morocco trip and went on a tour of Casablanca. The Libyans, who started their preparations for the match in Morocco as of September 1st, did the same.
On Saturday, the Algerian players visited the Hassan II Mosque, and on Sunday morning toured Ain Diab corniche. They were also honoured by the Moroccan Royal Football Federation in a gesture aimed at showing the brotherly ties between the Algerian and Moroccan peoples.
After the match, Libyan Sports Minister Fethi Terbel said, "We're sorry for the behaviour of our player and we'll punish him. However, what happened wouldn't affect our good relations with our Algerian brothers, whom we congratulate for the win."
Meanwhile, Algerian Football Federation President Mohamed Raouraoua said, "I congratulate the players and coach for the win, and we don't pay any attention to what happened at the end of match."
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