Libya national football team

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. 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 coachFaouzi Benzarti
CaptainMuhammad Nashnoush
Most capsAhmed Saad (108)
Top scorerFawzi Al-Issawi (40)
Home stadiumTripoli Stadium
First colours
Second colours
FIFA ranking
Current 101 (19 December 2019)[1]
Highest36 (September 2012)
Lowest187 (July 1997)
Elo ranking
Current 88 2 (25 November 2019)[2]
Highest46 (August 1985)
Lowest124 (June 2003)
First international
 Egypt 10–2 Libya
(Egypt; July 29, 1953)
Biggest win
 Libya 21–0 Muscat and Oman
(Iraq; April 6, 1966)
Biggest defeat
 Egypt 10–2 Libya
(Egypt; July 29, 1953)
Africa Cup of Nations
Appearances3 (first in 1982)
Best resultRunners-up, 1982

Libya is typically less successful in international competition compared to other North African teams like Algeria, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia. Libya has never qualified for the FIFA World Cup and its participation in AFCON is sporadic, having only qualified for three AFCON editions.

Since 2010s, Libya's global ranking has improved due to the increasing number of Libyan players playing in foreign leagues. In the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, the team recorded their first-ever win in the tournament outside Libya. Their FIFA world ranking rose to a high of 36 in September 2012; Libya then won a gold medal in the 2014 African Nations Championship . However, the Libyan Civil War caused the stoppage of the Libyan Premier League and severely disrupted domestic affairs. Libya was eliminated in the first round of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualification by Rwanda and failed to qualify for the 2016 African Nations Championship as the defending champions.


Early history

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 team's first manager 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 Cups

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. Libyan player Al-Saadi Gaddafi was banned from the team after failing 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.

During the qualifying campaign for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Libya defeated each side in the second round during home matches (they also defeated Lesotho away). However they were defeated by Gabon in an away match, and failed to qualify to the next round on goal difference.

In the qualifying campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Libya reached the final match in the group stage without a defeat. They were defeated 1–0 by Cameroon and failed to advance to the final round.

In the qualifying campaign for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Libya defeated Rwanda 4–1 on aggregate in the second round but were eliminated after losing the first three matches in the group stages.

African Cup Of Nations

Libya 1982

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 2006

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.

Post-Gaddafi era

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.[4]

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".[5] 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.[6]

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.[7]

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

2012 Africa Cup of Nations

Having qualified, Libya were drawn into Group A with co-hosts Equatorial Guinea, qualification rivals Zambia and pre-tournament favourites Senegal.

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. Libya went on to secure a 2–2 draw with Zambia in terrible conditions at the Estadio de Bata, before two goals from Ihaab al Bousseffi guided them to a 2–1 victory over Senegal, their first Nations Cup win in 30 years and a first on foreign soil. After four points from three games Libya was eliminated at the group stage.

2014 African Nations Championship Final

Libya played Ghana in the 2014 CHAN final. 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 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).

Coaching crisis

After Javier Clemente's dismissal in 2016, Jalal Damja took over the national team. He left in 2017 after his contract expired. Omar Almaryami was later appointed as coach and led Libya to the semi-finals of the 2018 African Nations Championship. After Libya's elimination by Morocco, Adel Amrouche was appointed in May 2018. His goal was to help Libya qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. He led Libya to a 0–0 draw against South Africa away from home. However, days before Libya's match against Nigeria, Amrouche suddenly left the team's camp and later resigned. During an interview with Reuters, Amrouche said that the reason for his resignation was that the Libyan Football Federation was repeatedly interfering with his work as a coach. He also cited unpaid wages as a reason for his resignation.

Omar Almaryami was again appointed as a caretaker coach of Libya. The team lost twice to Nigeria (4–0 away, 3–2 home) and Almaryami was replaced by former striker Fawzi Al-Issawi, who led Libya to an 8–1 away win over Seychelles. However, Libya later lost to South Africa 2–1, and Libya failed to qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. It was noted during the match that al-Issawi's assistant, Abu Bakr Bani was the one who made substitutions and instructed players, leaving many to wonder who was the actual coach.

After the match against South Africa, Jalal Damja was reappointed as the head coach for temporary matches in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualification before Faouzi Benzarti was named as new coach of Libya.


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 Civil War in 2011, Libya changed its flag to 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.

During late 2011 and early 2012 the Libyan team wore white jerseys temporarily in their qualification games and 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. However, in mid-2012 the team began to use red jerseys.

In 2014, Libya replaced the green socks worn by the players with black ones.

Adidas is the supplier of the official team strip.

Home stadium

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

It was 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.

The 28 March Stadium in Benghazi was also used by the national team sometimes.

FIFA lifted the ban on Libyan stadiums in 2013, during the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification. However, it was re-imposed in 2014 due to increased security concerns. As of now, the ban has not been lifted and the Libyan national team is forced to host games in neighboring countries such as Algeria, Morocco, Egypt or Tunisia (though Tunisia is the most popular choice due to its close distance to Libya).


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 also has a rivalry with Morocco. Libya's last win against Morocco was during the 1986 World Cup qualifiers, which Libya won 1-0.


Africa Cup of Nations:

Arab Cup of Nations:

African Nations Championship:

Competitive record

Palestine Cup of Nations

Recent results


Name Period
1 Massoud Zantouny1953
2 Salim Faraj Balteb1957–1960
3 James Benjeham1961
4 Billy Elliott1961–1963
5 Vojin Božović1964–1965
6 George Skinner1965–1966
7 Mokhtar Arribi1966–1967
8 Keith Spurgeon1967–1968
9 Ali Zantouny1968–1969
10 Milan Selbetishi1969–1970
11 George Ainsley1970–1972
12 Hassan Al-Amer1972
13 Titus Ozon1972–1974
14 Mohammed El-Khamisi (1)1974–1975
15 Abed Ali Al-Aqili1975–1976
16 Mohammed El-Khamisi (2)1976–1977
17 Ali Al-Zaqori1977–1978
18 Ron Bradley1978–1980
19 Mohammed El-Khamisi (3)1980–1982
20 Béla Gutal1982
Name Period
21 Cicerone Manolache[8]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 Soueid1989
26 Hashimi El-Bahlul (2)1991–1997
27 Ion Moldovan1998
28 Danny McLennan1998
29 Eugenio Bersellini1998–1999
30 Carlos Bilardo1999–2000
31 Miguel Angel Lemme2000–2001
32 Francesco Scoglio2002
33 Ilija Lončarević (1)2003–2004
34 Mohammed El-Khamisi (6)2004–2005
35 Ilija Lončarević (2)2005–2006
36 Mohsen Saleh2006
37 Abou Bakr Bani2006–2007
38 Faouzi Benzarti2007–2009
39 Branko Ivanković2009–2010
40 Marcos Paquetá2010–2012
Name Period
41 Abdul-Hafeedh Arbeesh2012–2013
42 Javier Clemente2013–2016
43 Jalal Damja2016–2017
44 Omar Al-Maryami2017
45 Adel Amrouche2018
46 Omar Al-Maryami2018
47 Fawzi Al-Issawi2018–2019
48 Jalal Damja2019
49 Faouzi Benzarti2019–present


Current squad

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 69 0 Al Ahli Tripoli
22 1GK Ahmed Azzaga (1988-08-09) 9 August 1988 2 0 Al-Madina
12 1GK Abdul Jawad Rizq (1994-01-20) 20 January 1994 0 0 Al-Ahly SC (Benghazi)

15 2DF Ahmed El Trbi (1992-06-06) 6 June 1992 36 2 Al-Ittihad
8 2DF Sanad Al-Warfali (1992-05-17) 17 May 1992 21 3 Raja Casablanca
14 2DF Ali Salama (1987-09-18) 18 September 1987 49 1 Al-Madina S.C.
16 2DF Ali Matouk (1990-07-12) 12 July 1990 2 0 Stade Tunisien
3 2DF Motasem Sabbou (1993-08-20) 20 August 1993 29 2 Al-Ittihad
13 2DF Mohamed El-Monir (1992-04-08) 8 April 1992 19 3 Los Angeles FC
2DF Ahmed Shilbi (1994-02-26) 26 February 1994 3 0 Al-Ahly SC (Benghazi)
6 2DF Mohamed Aleyat (1991-07-10) 10 July 1991 6 0 Al-Ahly Tripoli
2DF Rabia Allafi (1991-04-23) 23 April 1991 0 0 Al-Nasr SC

16 3MF Ali Elmusrati (1996-04-06) 6 April 1996 27 2 Vitória S.C. B
21 3MF Rabi Al-Shadi (1994-03-06) 6 March 1994 2 1 Al-Ittihad
24 3MF Muaid Ellafi (1996-03-07) 7 March 1996 12 2 USM Alger
14 3MF Mohammad Sola (1993-07-29) 29 July 1993 6 0 Al-Muharraq
2 3MF Al Senosi al Hadi (1994-02-26) 26 February 1994 0 0 Al-Arabi
11 3MF Ahmad Benali (1992-02-07) 7 February 1992 9 2 FC Crotone

10 4FW Hamdou Elhouni (1994-02-12) 12 February 1994 19 3 Espérance Sportive de Tunis
17 4FW Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (1994-03-28) 28 March 1994 3 0 New York City
7 4FW Moataz Al-Mehdi (1990-08-09) 9 August 1990 0 0 Al-Nasr SC
20 4FW Anis Saltou (1992-04-01) 1 April 1992 11 4 Al Ahli Tripoli
19 4FW Salem Elmslaty (1992-10-31) 31 October 1992 3 1 Al-Ittihad
9 4FW Khaled Majdi (1996-01-05) 5 January 1996 1 1 Al-Nasr SC

Recent call-ups

The following players were called up within the past 12 months.

Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club Latest call-up
GK Murad al-Wuheshi (1997-02-28) 28 February 1997 0 0 Al-Ittihad v.  Seychelles, 17 November 2018

DF Ali Maatouk (1988-01-04) 4 January 1988 2 0 Al Ahli Tripoli v.  Seychelles, 17 November 2018
DF Osama Chtiba (1988-09-27) 27 September 1988 17 0 Al-Ittihad v.  Seychelles, 17 November 2018

MF Badr Hassan (1987-10-01) 1 October 1987 7 0 Al-Ahli Tripoli v.  Seychelles, 17 November 2018

FW Mohamed Zubya (1989-03-20) 20 March 1989 18 6 Al-Ittihad v.  Nigeria, 16 October 2018

See also



  1. "The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking". FIFA. 19 December 2019. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  2. Elo rankings change compared to one year ago. "World Football Elo Ratings". 25 November 2019. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  3. Anaman, Fiifi. "The Last Time: How Ghana managed an unlikely ascension unto the African football throne". Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  4. 4 September 2011, Libyan football enters post-Gaddafi era, BBC News Online, Accessed September 5, 2011.
  5. 7 October 2011, Libya eye unlikely qualification, BBC Sport, Accessed October 8, 2011.
  6. 8 October 2011, Zambia, Libya make Nations Cup cut, BBC Sport, Accessed October 8, 2011.
  7. 29 November 2011, Libyan National Football Team and the Libyan National Chess Team Reception, [SmugMug Sohail Nakhooda], Accessed 30 November 2011.
  8. Ca selecţioner al Libiei, Cicerone Manolache avea un salariu de 2.000 $, dar statul român oprea 1.700 $,, 29 mars 2011.
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