Libya v Jordan 0-0
Libya crashed out of the Pan Arab Games football tournament following another disappointing performance against Jordan at the Al-Gharrafa Stadium in Doha on Saturday afternoon in a match that ended scoreless. Libya only managed two draws from their three Group C outings.
After poor performances and results in their first two fixtures, qualification for the semi finals was still in the offing and in the hands of Marcos Paquetá’s side, though they needed to do well to break down an impressive Jordanian unit.
Silver medallists at the 2007 competition, big things were expected of the Mediterranean Knights going into this edition, but despite their tag as favourites, they have failed to live up to the billing.
Having said that, it is has also to be noted that many key members of the squad that secured qualification to the African Cup of Nations were unavailable for this tournament. Those who were selected have had very little match practice due to the uprising that ended in October.
Having conceded late in their previous match against Palestine, libya's coach Paquetá made four changes to his side; Abdulaziz Belrrish, Mahmood Bher, Marwan Mabrouk and Muhammad al Ghannoudi came in for Ihaab al Bousseffi, Osama Abdussalam, Abdulrahman al Amaami and the suspended Ahmed al Alwany.
However, despite the prize on offer, the match failed to take off in the first half; aware their position in the semi-finals was assured Jordan were content to keep possession and slow the tempo.
The Libyan side have failed to raise their game in this tournament, and suffered similar problems here. Despite the creative presence of Ahmed Sa’ad, they were stifled by Jordan’s solid defensive work.
Éamon Zayed looked isolated up front, with his strike partner al Ghannoudi often dropping deeper and taking up a position on the right wing. He was soon replaced by Ihaab Bousseffi, who managed the first of Libya’s two shots on target in the 83rd minute, with his curling effort matched by a very smart save from captain Lou’ai al Amaireh.
As time began to expire, Jordan’s youthful side pushed forward more often to try and exploit the gaps left in the Libyan defence. Abdullah Salem and substitute Munther abu Amarah combined well, with the latter trying a decent effort on goal.
The match did not finish without incident, however. In the dying seconds, Omani referee Ibrahim al Hosni red carded Abdallah al Sharif off for elbowing Salem in.
Consolation for Paquetá after this poor performance, should be that for next months tournament he would have the likes of Djamal Abdallah and Ahmed Zuway back, and though this tournament in Doha will have served as good preparation in terms of match practice, the level of performance is something that will have to be seriously looked at in order for Libya to live up to their potential.
In the other group C match Palestine proved to be the tournament's surprise team as they managed to defeat Sudan 2-0, and sneak in through to the semi finals at their opponents’ expense. They now face Bahrain in Tuesday’s semi-final, while Jordan face Group B winners Kuwait, who defeated Saudi Arabia 2-0 in the other semi.