Libya have qualified for the Chan 2014 semi-finals after defeating Gabon in a nervy clash decided by penalty shootout at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane
Libya are the third team to make it through to the semi-finals of the 2014 African Nations Championship after beating Gabon 4-2 on penalties following a 1-1 stalemate after extra time.
After a goalless draw in first half, the Mediterranean Knights were put ahead in the 50th minute by Abdelsalam Omar, but Daniel Cousin equalised for Gabon in the 74th minute from the spot kick.
The match went into extra time and penalty shootout that ended in favour of the North Africans 4-2.
The Panthers began strongly, piling pressure on the Knights from both flanks and holding possession for long minutes but the North Africans’ shaky backline held out quite nicely.
Romuald Entsitsigui came close to opening the scoring for Gabon, but after jinking his way through to Libya box, he pushed the ball too hard, allowing goalkeeper Mohamed Nashnush to beat him to it.
Libya had a chance of their own immediately after but after making a good run into Gabon area, Elmehdi Mohamed Elhouni whipped into the box with none of his mates coming close to bending home the effort.
Samson Mbingui carved a beautiful free kick for Gabon but it crashed against the crossbar, saving Libya from conceding the opener by the 13th minute.
Gabon dominated play and were more threatening in front of goal but the Libyans successfully stamped out the dangers while producing scary counterattacks as well to push back the Gabonese.
A free kick outside the box could have put Libya shockingly ahead, but Abdelrahman Fetori’s strike flashed inches off the target.
Romuald Entsitsigui won a free kick for Gabon at the edge of the box after a mesmerising build up play but Motasem Sabbou’s effort failed to find a breach in the crowded box, keeping the score line at a goalless draw by the half hour mark.
The game settled gradually into a kick and move format, as both sides struggled to outrun each other’s defence without any success.
The first half ended with a solo action from Gabon’s Stephane Bitseki, who launched a counter from the left wing but pulled back when he realised no yellow shirt was on the receiving end.
The second half began with similar pace, with Gabon grabbing the first corner kick but Sokambi’s header floated wide.
Libya broke the deadlock in the 50th minute, after a left wing drive from Abdelsalam Omar, who claimed an air ball on the run before softly lobbing past onrushing Gabon goalkeeper Parfait Bitseki Moto to find the back net.
Goal scorer Omar was replaced moments after with Mohamed Ghanudi following a thigh injury as Gabon threw Daniel Cousin into the action.
Libya controlled matters after taking the lead but failed on two occasions to make it to 2-0.
Gabon were awarded a penalty when Lionel Yackouya was tipped in the box by Abdelrahman Fetori, with former Hull City forward Daniel Cousin dispatching coolly to the side of Libya goalkeeper to pull level for the Panthers by the 74th minute.
Libya reacted with a sublime counterattack but Mohamed Almaghasi skied the last ditch effort.
Cousin’s header in Libya box could have put the Panthers ahead in the final minutes but it floated into the gloves of Nashnush, with the game ending 1-1 at fulltime for extra time to determine the winner.
The Knights controlled the first half of extra time, with their most genuine chance falling to Mohamed Ghanudi, but his long range strike bounced off the woodwork.
Gabon keeper Parfait Bitseki Moto tipped over the bar another dangerous finish from Libya, as both sides exchanged posts for the second half of extra time with the score still at 1-1.
The Libyans seized the session, winning all balls but kept botching up goal opportunities up field as it all looked to be dragging into penalty shootout.
Libya’s Abdelrahman Fetori forced another save from Moto, while a similar action from Gabon concluded the extra time.
Libya scored all four spot kicks while Gabon’s Alain Djissikadie and Bonaventure Sokambi missed one each to hand the Knights a ticket to the 2014 African Nations Championship semi-finals on 1-1 (4-2) at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Sunday.