03 February 2018 08:29
Goalkeeper Akram El Hadi saved two penalties as Sudan beat Libya 4-2 in third place match on Saturday in Marrakech.
Libya substitute Salem Ablo levelled late in the game cancelling Walaa Mohamed’s opener, forcing the game into penalties, where the Desert Hawks triumphed for their best ever finish in the history of the championship designed exclusively for footballers playing in their domestic leagues. Sudan was fourth when they hosted the competition in 2011.
The Sudanese made clear their intent from the onset and broke the deadlock after seven minutes when Mohamed headed past Mohamed Nashnush from Taher’s Elhag’s cross from the right.
Not even seven changes made to the squad by Sudan coach Zdravko Logarusic affected their play as captain Mohamed Taher, who started for the first time as many matches dictated the pace from the middle with his delightful one-touch passes.
Libya responded with Elmutasem Abushaf missing target narrowly twice on the bounce to the relief of the Desert Hawks.
The Meditteranean Knights resumed on a higher note and the coming on of Saleh Taher for Zakaria Alharash brought some bite into their attack.
On 74 minutes, Akram pulled the best save of the game denying Ablo, who thought he had equalized for his side, with a superb save.
It was only a matter of time that Libyans were going to equalize. And it did come seven minutes from time when Taher’s long cross met the head of Ablo past Akram, forcing the game into penalties.
During penalties, Akram saved the kicks of Elmehdi Elhouni and Ablo with Taher, Atahir Babikir, Ahmed Mahmoud and substitute Abdelrahman Maaz scoring for the Sudanese. Libyan duo Moftah Taktak and substitute Abdelsalam Alaqoub converted their kicks.
Total man of the Match: Mohamed Taher (Sudan)
Mohamed Taher (Total Man of the Match)
We give glory to God for this victory. We have a strong team in front of us, but we played well to win. It was a balanced game, and Libya could have also won as it was a close game.
We have a young team and I commend my colleagues for the good job done. Finishing third is a respectable position and it confirms that we put in a lot of efforts.
Zdravko Logarusic (Head Coach, Sudan)
I’m very happy. We came here as tourists (as may thought) and end up as the third best team. We were luckier, because sometimes you need luck to achieve results.
We scored first and Libya equalized late thanks to their dominance in the second half.
It looks like we are on the right track, but there is still a lot to learn for the players and personally rom a technical point of view.
Thank you to the Sudan Football Association and the Sudanese people who gave me the opportunity and pleasure to work with these players. Without the players, we (coaches) are nobodies.
We have done a good foundation to build a strong national team. So, let’s see how we can build a nice house with the foundation we have laid here.
Darko Novic (Assistant Coach, Libya)
Our players have given a good account of themselves throughout the competition.
It is a young team with an average age of 21. It has been a good development for Libyan football, and it will also help the country domestically.
The players can do more. The six matches we have played at this competition has given different levels of experience.