Libya and Zambia played to an entertaining 2-2 draw at a sodden Estadio de Bata in a 2012 Africa Cup of Nations Group A game that kicked off over an hour late due to incessant rain at the venue.
Chipolopolo twice fought back from a goal down to force a draw (the first of the tournament) against the Mediterranean Knights, for whom Ahmed Osman Saad scored a brace. Zambia’s goals were netted by Emmanuel Mayuka and Christopher Katongo.
The match kicked off an hour and a quarter late due to a waterlogged pitch, and in the opening minutes it was clear that a lot of the playing surface was still very sodden and difficult for the teams.
Libya seemed to adapt to the conditions quicker and went into a shock lead after just five minutes. Walid Elkhatroushi provided a great through-ball for Ahmed Osman Saad to sprint onto and the attacker opened up the angle before striking the ball beyond goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.
The Mediterranean Knights were then dealt a massive blow when Elkhatroushi was forced off before the 20-minute mark with injury. Ihab Albousaifi came on in his stead, but was unable to provide the same creative spark.
That signalled a change in the match as Zambia took control and began to force the North Africans onto the back foot. On 29 minutes Chipolpolo drew level at 1-1 when Emmanuel Mayuka steered home a well-placed volley from Rainford Kalaba’s teasing cross.
Such was Zambia’s dominance in the lead up to their goal and following it, that coach Herve Renard had the confidence to withdraw a defender, Francis Kasonde, and put on striker Collins Mbesuma in a very positive tactical switch on 32 minutes.
Despite Zambia’s attacking intent, the score remained 1-1 up to the half time break, though Libya did have a few nervy moments where they needed goalkeeper Samir Abod to be sharp.
The North Africans started the second half in much the same way they did the first- by taking the lead. Saad was again the man who found the back of the net, showing great persistence in the penalty area before firing home a shot via the inside of the post.
But again Libya were unable to hold onto their lead, with Zambia drawing level for a second time just six minutes after conceding.
Issac Chansa provided a brilliant assist, chesting down a cross before volleying an overhead kick that was headed home at the far post by Chris Katongo.
Both sides had further chances to add to the score line but in the end a draw was a fair reflection of the game.
The result certainly suits Zambia better than Libya, who will need to win their last game against Senegal to have any chance of progressing into the last eight.