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The Libya national football team (Arabic: منتخب ليبيا لكرة القدم‎) is the national association football team of Libya and is controlled by the Libyan Football Federation. As of 2017, Libya has never qualified for the FIFA World Cup, the only team in North Africa that has failed to do so. The team has qualified for three Africa Cup of Nations: 1982, 2006, and 2012. In 1982, the team was both the host and runner-up. In the Arab Nations Cup, Libya finished second in 1964 and 2012, and third in the 1966.

Nickname(s)The Mediterranean Knights
AssociationLibyan Football Federation
ConfederationCAF (Africa)
Sub-confederationUNAF (North Africa)
Head coachFawzi Al-Issawi
CaptainMuhammad Nashnoush
Most capsAhmed Saad (108)
Top scorerFawzi Al-Issawi (40)
Home stadiumTripoli Stadium
First colours
Second colours
FIFA ranking
Current 105 Decrease 1 (7 February 2019)[1]
Highest36 (September 2012)
Lowest187 (July 1997)
Elo ranking
Current 87 Steady (3 March 2019)[2]
Highest46 (August 1985)
Lowest124 (June 2003)
First international
 Egypt 10–2 Libya Libya
(Egypt; July 29, 1953)
Biggest win
 Libya 21–0 Muscat and Oman Flag of Muscat.svg
(Iraq; April 6, 1966)
Biggest defeat
 Egypt 10–2 Libya Libya
(Egypt; July 29, 1953)
Africa Cup of Nations
Appearances3 (first in 1982)
Best resultRunners-up, 1982

The good performances recorded in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations under Brazilian Coach Marcos Paquetá saw the team record their first win in the tournament outside Libya in their final match against Senegal. This saw their FIFA world rankings rise to the highest it had ever been at 53, which later rose again to 36 in September 2012 before winning their first gold medal in the 2014 CHAN. However, the ongoing civil war in 2014 affected the team along with the stoppage of the Libyan league, thus the team was knocked from the First Round of the 2015 CAN qualifiers by Rwanda and failed to qualify for CHAN 2016 after winning the previous tournament.



Early historyEdit

Libya's national team was first initiated in 1918, but did not play an official international until 3 August 1953, when they defeated Palestine 5–2 in the first Pan Arab Games in 1953. The first manager ever to manage the Libyan national team was Masoud Zantouny, and the first foreign manager was Englishman James Bingham, who took charge of the Libyan national team for the 1961 Pan Arab Games. The first player ever to score for the Libyan national team in an official international was Mukhtar Ghonaay.

The first penalty ever scored by a member of the national team was in the 1953 Pan Arab Games group stage; in the match against Egypt, Ali Zantouny scored in the 3–2 defeat. The national team's first participation in the Arab Cup was in 1964, the second edition of the competition, held in Kuwait.

The first ever player to score for the Libyan national team in a non-official international was Mustapha Makki in a warm-up friendly played prior to the 1953 Pan Arab Games tournament, played against Palestine in Alexandria in 1952. The national team's first attempt to qualify for an Olympic football tournament was in 1967, where they played their first qualification match against Niger in an attempt to qualify for the 1968 Olympic football tournament in Mexico City.

World CupsEdit

Libya first entered the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in 1970. Their early attempts failed, but during the 1980s the national side strengthened. The country's geopolitical position, however, affected the football team, who had to withdraw from qualifying for the 1982 and 1990 World Cups.

Libya came closest to qualifying for the world cup in 1986. They came to within a game of reaching the finals in Mexico. After winning their match against Sudan in their first game, the Libyans beat Ghana in the next round before taking on Morocco for a place at the finals. Morocco won the first game 3–0 and went through, even though Libya won the return leg 1–0.

After not entering the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cup competition, Libya came back in the qualifying competition for Korea/Japan. The Libyans advanced to the second round at the expense of Mali, who were beaten 4–3 on aggregate. In the group stage, Libya managed only two draws in eight games.

In the qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, a 9–0 two-legged victory against São Tome and Principe put the Libyans through to the group stage. However, during these two games Al-Saadi Gaddafi was banned when he failed a drug test.

A difficult group followed containing Egypt, Cameroon and Ivory Coast, the eventual group winners and qualifiers for the World Cup. However, The Knights were able to secure good results against these sides, as they beat Egypt 2–1 in Tripoli, and held Cameroon and Ivory Coast to 0–0 draws, helping them to a 4th-place finish and a place at the 2006 African Cup of Nations finals in Egypt.

African Cup Of NationsEdit

Libya 1982Edit

The biggest football tournament to be held in Libya was the 1982 African Cup of Nations. Libya qualified automatically as hosts and were put in a group alongside Ghana, Cameroon and Tunisia. The opening match of the tournament saw the hosts take on Ghana in Tripoli in a 2–2 draw. A 2–0 win over Tunisia and a goalless draw against Cameroon saw Libya topping the group.

In the semi-finals, Libya came from behind to beat Zambia 2–1 and set up another match with Ghana, this time in the final on 19 March. Ghana scored first in the 35th minute, but Libya equalised in the 70th. This was followed by a tense period of extra time in which no goals were scored. In a long penalty shootout, Ghana came out triumphant 7–6.[3]

Egypt 2006Edit

Libya's second African Cup of Nations saw a return to the higher levels of the international footballing scene at the 2006 African Cup of Nations finals in Egypt. They qualified for the competition after a goalless draw with Sudan in their ninth qualifying match.

Libya were drawn in Group A with Egypt (the hosts and eventual winners), 2006 World Cup-qualifiers Ivory Coast and Morocco. Libya lost 3–0 to Egypt in Cairo, then lost 2–1 to Ivory Coast. A goalless draw against Morocco saw Libya finish bottom of the group.

Recent yearsEdit

Faouzi Benzarti became the coach of the national team in 2006. He failed to lead the team to the 2008 African Nations Cup, despite being drawn in what was seen as an easy group along with DR Congo, Namibia and Ethiopia; away defeats in Addis Ababa and Windhoek prevented qualification.

The next challenge for the Libyans was the qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. They were drawn in Group 5 along with Gabon, Lesotho and Ghana: Libya were eliminated on goal difference after losing their final match against Gabon.

Libya had a chance to come back from World Cup misfortune during the qualifiers for the 2009 African Championship of Nations. They overcame Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco to go through to the tournament, but Libya finished bottom of their group after losing to Congo DR and drawing with Ghana and Zimbabwe. Benzarti was sacked,[4] and Serbian Branko Smiljanić was appointed on December 13.[5] In July 2010, Brazilian coach Marcos Paqueta was appointed the head coach of the Libyan team, and signed a four-year contract ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.[6]

Post-Gaddafi eraEdit

Libya played its first match after the Battle of Tripoli (and thus the end of the Gaddafi era in Libya) on 3 September 2011, with a new uniform sporting the National Transitional Council flag of Libya.

The match, part of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualification campaign, resulted in a 1–0 victory over Mozambique. The historic goal was scored by Rabee'a al Laafi. Like Libya's previous home match, a 3–0 defeat of Comoros in qualifying, played in Stade 26 mars in Bamako, Mali, a relocation was necessary due to the ongoing Libyan Civil War, and so the Petro Sport Stadium in Cairo, Egypt became the venue. The match was played behind closed doors for security reasons.[7]

Prior to the team's final game in the qualification campaign, against Zambia, coach Marcos Paquetá claimed that the team was now "not only playing for football success but for a new government and a new country".[8] The match was played on 8 October 2011, and resulted in a 0–0 draw which was good enough for both teams to qualify. Paquetá and his team danced and celebrated afterwards.[9]

In November 2011 the team travelled to the United Arab Emirates to play a friendly match against Belarus organized by FIFA and broadcast Dubai Sports. The team members, along with the Libyan national Chess team, also attended an event at the Libyan Consulate in Dubai organized to honour their contribution to their country in the field of sports.[10]

On 7 June 2013, Libya met DR Congo in its first match on home ground in two years.

2012 Africa Cup of NationsEdit

Having qualified, Libya were drawn into Group A with co-hosts Equatorial Guinea, qualification rivals Zambia and pre-tournament favourites Senegal, Paquetá's men faced a tough task in progressing from the group.

The Mediterranean Knights' first game, the tournament's opening match, saw them lose to an 87th-minute winner from ex-Real Madrid winger Javier Ángel Balboa. Despite this setback, Libya's performances improved as the tournament went on; they went on to secure a 2–2 draw with Zambia in terrible conditions at the Estadio de Bata, before a brace from Ihaab al Bousseffi guided them to a famous 2–1 victory over Senegal, their first Nations Cup win in 30 years and a first on foreign soil. A respectable return of four points from three games was, sadly, not enough for Libya to progress, as they bowed out at the group stage.

The team will certainly learn from such an experience, however; despite a fairly conservative approach in the opening match, Libya began to offer more going forward, with Ahmed Sa'ad winning the man of the match award for the games against Zambia and Senegal as he showcased his obvious talent on a continental and global stage.

With six members of the squad aged 30 and above, notably Samir Aboud, for whom the match against Senegal brought down the curtain on a long international career, the focus now turns to the future of Libyan football; although domestic football has yet to be rescheduled following a year-long hiatus, qualification for next year's Cup of Nations could see a new-look Libya side enter the fray in South Africa.

2014 African Nations ChampionshipEdit

Libya drew against Ghana in a very tough and tiring match. Extra time was given ( two 15 minutes), however both teams failed to score. It was taken to penalty shootouts, where the Libyan team scored the first three penalties, missed two others and scored the final sixth (making it 4 in total, that they scored) and their Ghanaian opponents missed the first two, scored the next three then missed the final sixth penalty (resulting in 3 penalties scored). The match finished (0–0) and was won by the Mediterranean Knights by penalties (4–3).


In the Gaddafi era the National team used to play its home matches wearing the green coloured kit representing the Flag of Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. However, after the Libyan Crisis in 2011 the Nation changed its flag into the new one which was used from 1951 to 1969 back when Libya was a Kingdom. This change resulted in changing the national team's kit in order to represent the new flag. The team played its home matches with colours: Red, Black and Green (as in the flag). Red dominates the strip and is the sole jersey colour. The away colours were white in both eras. Since 2011, the LFF emblem and the national team's badge was changed into the current design.The previous badge was two balls in front of green coloured Libya's map which is also in front of a sun.

After the crisis in 2011 the Libyan team wore white jerseys temporarily in their qualification games and 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. However at the end of 2012 the team began to use red jerseys.

The Libyan National team is nicknamed as "The Mediterranean Knights" as the Mediterranean Sea is located on the north of the country.

Adidas is the supplier of the official team strip.

Home stadiumEdit

Tripoli Stadium

The Tripoli Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Tripoli, Libya. It can hold 80,000 spectators.

It is the main venue used by the Libyan national football team in its FIFA World Cup and African Nations Cup qualifying matches as well as friendlies and other international games.

The stadium hosted many games of the 1982 African Cup of Nations held in Libya along with the 28 March Stadium in Benghazi.

It was the venue for the final between Ghana and Libya. It hosted the 2002 Italian Supercup between Juventus and Parma, which Juventus won, 2–1.

Its name is a reference to the date of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Libya, June 11, 1970.


Libya's only real rivalries are with its fellow North African footballing nations, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt and, mainly, Tunisia. Matches between Libya and any one of these opponents are highly charged encounters. Libya defeated Egypt 2–1 in a World Cup qualifier on 8 October 2004, the Pharaohs never managed to beat the Libyans on their own turf. The rivalry was rekindled at the 2007 Pan Arab Games, where the teams drew 0–0; Egypt eventually claimed the gold medal on goal difference from the Libyans.

Libya's last clash with Morocco was at the 2006 African Nations Cup, where it finished goalless (However, Libya also recently contested a fiery two-legged play-off tie for the 2009 African Championship of Nations, which Libya won 4–3 on aggregate). The height of the rivalry was in the 1980s, where a strong Libya side, which at that time was regarded as one of the top teams in the continent, had its World Cup '86 dreams crushed by a resurgent Morocco side. The Moroccans won the play-off 3–1 on aggregate, and progressed to the knockout stage, where they were defeated by West Germany.


Competitive recordEdit

Palestine Cup of NationsEdit

Recent resultsEdit


Name Period
1   Massoud Zantouny 1953
2   Salim Faraj Balteb 1957-1960
3   James Benjeham 1961
4   Billy Elliott 1961-1963
5   Vojin Božović 1964-1965
6   George Skinner 1965-1966
7   Mokhtar Arribi 1966-1967
8   Keith Spurgeon 1967-1968
9   Ali Zantouny 1968-1969
10   Milan Selbetishi 1969-1970
11   George Ainsley 1970-1972
12   Hassan Al-Amer 1972
13   Titus Ozon 1972-1974
14   Mohammed El-Khamisi (1) 1974-1975
15   Abed Ali Al-Aqili 1975-1976
Name Period
16   Mohammed El-Khamisi (2) 1976-1977
17   Ali Al-Zaqori 1977-1978
18   Ron Bradley 1978-1980
19   Mohammed El-Khamisi (3) 1980-1982
20   Béla Gutal 1982
21   Cicerone Manolache[11] 1983-1984
22   Mohammed El-Khamisi (4) 1984
23   Hashimi El-Bahlul (1) 1984-1986
24   Mohammed El-Khamisi (5) 1988-1989
25   Ahmed Ben Soueid 1989
26   Hashimi El-Bahlul (2) 1991-1997
27   Ion Moldovan 1998
28   Danny McLennan 1998
29   Eugenio Bersellini 1998-1999
30   Carlos Bilardo 1999-2000
Name Period
31   Miguel Angel Lemme 2000-2001
32   Francesco Scoglio 2002
33   Ilija Lončarević (1) 2003-2004
34   Mohammed El-Khamisi (6) 2004-2005
35   Ilija Lončarević (2) 2005-2006
36   Mohsen Saleh 2006
37   Abou Bakr Bani 2006-2007
38   Faouzi Benzarti 2007-2009
39   Branko Ivanković 2009-2010
40   Marcos Paquetá 2010-2012
41   Abdul-Hafeedh Arbeesh 2012-2013
42   Javier Clemente 2013-2016
43   Jalal Damja 2016-2018
44   Adel Amrouche 2018
45   Fawzi Al-Issawi 2018-Present


Current squadEdit

The following players were selected for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification match against South Africa.

Caps and goals as of 17 November 2018, after the match against Seychelles.

No. Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1 1GK Muhammad Nashnoush (1988-06-14) 14 June 1988 (age 30) 69 0   Al Ahli Tripoli
22 1GK Ahmed Azzaga (1988-08-09) 9 August 1988 (age 30) 2 0   Al-Madina
1 1GK Abdul Jawad Rizq (1994-01-20) 20 January 1994 (age 25) 0 0   Al-Ahly SC (Benghazi)

15 2DF Ahmed El Trbi (1992-06-06) 6 June 1992 (age 26) 36 2   Al-Ittihad
8 2DF Sanad Al-Warfali (1992-05-17) 17 May 1992 (age 26) 21 1   Raja Casablanca
14 2DF Ali Salama (1987-09-18) 18 September 1987 (age 31) 49 1   Al-Madina S.C.
3 2DF Abdelaziz Belreesh (1990-07-12) 12 July 1990 (age 28) 2 0   Al Ittihad Tripoli
3 2DF Motasem Sabbou (1993-08-20) 20 August 1993 (age 25) 29 2   Al-Ittihad Tripoli
13 2DF Mohamed El-Monir (1992-04-08) 8 April 1992 (age 26) 19 3   Los Angeles
- 2DF Ahmed Shilbi (1994-02-26) 26 February 1994 (age 25) 3 0   Al-Ahly SC (Benghazi)
- 2DF Mohamed Aleyat (1991-07-10) 10 July 1991 (age 27) 6 0   Al-Ahly Tripoli
- 2DF Rabia Allafi (1991-04-23) 23 April 1991 (age 27)   Al-Nasr SC (Benghazi)

16 3MF Ali Elmusrati (1996-04-06) 6 April 1996 (age 22) 27 2   Vitória S.C. B
21 3MF Rabi Al-Shadi (1994-03-06) 6 March 1994 (age 25) 2 1   Al-Ittihad Tripoli
24 3MF Muaid Ellafi (1996-03-07) 7 March 1996 (age 23) 12 2   USM Alger
14 3MF Mohammad Sola (1993-07-29) 29 July 1993 (age 25) 6 0   Al-Muharraq
- 3MF Al Senosi al Hadi (1994-02-26) 26 February 1994 (age 25) 0 0   Al-Jabalain FC
10 4FW Hamdou Elhouni (1994-02-12) 12 February 1994 (age 25) 19 3   Espérance Sportive de Tunis
17 4FW Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (1994-03-28) 28 March 1994 (age 24) 3 0   New York City
7 4FW Moataz Al Mehdi (1990-08-09) 9 August 1990 (age 28) 0 0   Al-Nasr SC
20 4FW Anis Saltou (1992-04-01) 1 April 1992 (age 26) 11 4   Al Ahli Tripoli
19 4FW Salem Elmslaty (1992-10-31) 31 October 1992 (age 26) 3 1   Al-Ittihad
9 4FW Khaled Majdi (1996-01-05) 5 January 1996 (age 23) 1 1   Al-Nasr

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e Cite error: The named reference WChomematches was invoked but never defined (see the help page).


  1. ^ "The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking". FIFA. 7 February 2019. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  2. ^ Elo rankings change compared to one year ago. "World Football Elo Ratings". 3 March 2019. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  3. ^ Anaman, Fiifi. "The Last Time: How Ghana managed an unlikely ascension unto the African football throne". Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  4. ^ 22 March 2009, LFF Sacks Fauzi Benzarti Archived 2011-07-17 at the Wayback Machine, Tripoli Post, Accessed March 22, 2009.
  5. ^ لجنة المنتخبات تقدم المدرب الجديد للمنتخب الى وسائل الإعلام (in Arabic) LFF 2009-12-13
  6. ^ Brazilian Paqueta signs to coach Libya
  7. ^ 4 September 2011, Libyan football enters post-Gaddafi era, BBC News Online, Accessed September 5, 2011.
  8. ^ 7 October 2011, Libya eye unlikely qualification, BBC Sport, Accessed October 8, 2011.
  9. ^ 8 October 2011, Zambia, Libya make Nations Cup cut, BBC Sport, Accessed October 8, 2011.
  10. ^ 29 November 2011, Libyan National Football Team and the Libyan National Chess Team Reception, [SmugMug Sohail Nakhooda], Accessed 30 November 2011.
  11. ^ Ca selecţioner al Libiei, Cicerone Manolache avea un salariu de 2.000 $, dar statul român oprea 1.700 $,, 29 mars 2011.

External linksEdit