Mohamed Abdelrahman’s penalty secured Sudan a spot in the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar after a nerve-wracking 1-0 win over Libya in the play-off qualifying match Saturday. With the 30 percent capacity crowd at the Khalifa International stadium creating a raucous atmosphere, both teams went on attack right from the start.
While Libya wasted many opportunities, Sudan walked away with the victory after Abdelrahman converted a penalty in the 15th minute. Sudan joined Algeria, Egypt in Group D, with the winner of Lebanon versus Djibouti also set to join them.
Over the next six days, six other participants will be determined. As per the FIFA Rankings, hosts Qatar, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, United Arab Emirates and Syria have already qualified for the tournament, which will be held from November 30 to December 18. The showpiece event will support Qatar’s preparations for the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
Libya were looking to make the group stage of the Arab Cup after missing out on qualification for next January’s CAF Africa Cup of Nations. On the eve of the match, Libyan coach Javier Clemente had promised his team would take the field with a positive approach and that’s exactly what they did. Libya should have gone ahead in the opening five minutes, but wasted two chances.
First, Faisal Albadri’s shot was saved by Sudan goalkeeper Ali Aboeshren, before seconds later Motasem Sabbou failed to connect the ball after a good cross from Nouradin Elgelaib. Soon enough, those missed opportunities came to hurt Libya.
Sudan were awarded a penalty following a late challenge by Ali Salama on Seif El-Din Malik. Abdelrahman assumed responsibility and sent the goalkeeper Mohamed Nashnush the wrong way with a calmly dispatched spot-kick.
While Libya pressed hard for an equaliser, it was Sudan who created dangerous openings with Eltahir Athir’s goal-bound shot saved valiantly by Ahmed Eltrbi.
In the second half, Libya came back aggressively but the Mediterranean Knights failed to get past a terrific Aboeshren. In the 57th minute, Mohamed Zubya thought he had equalised for Libya but his header was tipped into the crossbar after the faintest of touches from Aboeshren, while Mohamed Elmonir’s long range shot was way off the mark.
Libya had further chances in the 72 minute, but Aboeshren put his body on the line to deny Muad Eisay, while Albadri hit wide. Sudan had their own opportunities to double the lead but Abdelrahman’s first half penalty and some terrific saves by Aboeshren took them over the line.
The teams were not separated by much on the FIFA ranking list, with Sudan ranked 123 while Libya are placed four places higher.
One of the pioneers in establishing the Africa Cup of Nations, Sudan are looking to revive past glories and they will be eager to impress in the FIFA Arab Cup in Qatar later this year. The Falcons of Jediane have a proud footballing history, having hosted the first edition of Africa’s top competition in 1957 before winning the title on home soil in 1970.