Libya reached the final of the Chan tournament beating Zimbabwe 5-4 on penalties after the titanic clash had ended goalless following 120 minutes of gruelling soccer.
Playing in pounding rains, in Bloemfontein, the Warriors have themselves to blame for not having won the match in regulation time and were still by far the better side in extra time.
But poor finishing and some indecisiveness inside the box cost them dearly a place in the final which they could have fully deserved on a treacherous Wednesday afternoon.
They will now have to settle for either third or fourth place position and yet, it was a match they could have sealed, well inside 90 minutes. They were by far the better side throughout.
Zimbabwe could have made an ideal start when Danny Phiri saw his low shot fumbled by the Libyan ‘keeper Mohamed Abdoula as early as the 3rd minute but there were no takers for the rebound.
Ali Sadiki then saw his long range shot tipped over the bar by Abdoula in the 6th minute as Zimbabwe searched for the early breakthrough.
The Mediterranean Knights then gradually got into the groove of things creating some gilt-edged chances but the mainstay Zimbabwe defence repelled the threat.
Simba Sithole headed narrowly wide as Zimbabwe still looked the more likely side to break the deadlock.
Sithole was again guilty of an early miss in the opening minutes of the second half as Zimbabwe threw more bodies upfront.
On the 48th minute, Ali Sadiki failed to control a cross from the right as the Warriors piled on the pressure.
Sadiki tested Libyan keeper again with another long range free kick which Abdoula easily smothered into the safety of his hands. He returned to haunt the North Africans with another cracker before failing to control a deft pass as Zimbabwe Warriors continued to trouble the Libyans.
Kudakwashe Mahachi then blazed an easy attempt over the bar when it looked easier to score than miss.
As the match headed into extra time Zimbabwe created but missed a host of chances. It was all Zimbabwe but a dodged Libyan defence meant this semi-final encounter was going to be decided after 120 minutes.
Libyan substitute Elmutasem Abushnaf almost gave the North Africans an undeserved winner when a rare miscommunication between Danny Phiri and goalkeeper George Chigova saw the striker’s shot go through the Zimbabwe keeper but fortunately for the Warriors trickled wide of the goal.
Sithole then saw his shot deflected by a Libyan defender after some good work on the right by Mahachi at the end of the first half of extra time.
It was the same story in the second half of extra time leading the match into penalty shoot-out.
It was a fitting end for Libyan goalkeeper Mohamed Abdaula who netted the winning penalty to seal a good day between the posts.
Confederation of African Football (CAF) News
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