Libya could take a massive stride forward in their quest to qualify for Qatar’s World Cup 2022 on Friday, when they travel to face their current closest rivals in Group F, Egypt, at the 30 June Air Defence Stadium.
Three points for Libya against Egypt would put them five points clear at the top of the group with three games left to play, and Javier Clemente will want his side to continue their 100% record in the CAF World Cup qualifiers.
Egypt are unbeaten in their opening two qualifying games this year, starting their campaign with a 1-0 win over Angola, and last time out earning a point away against Gabon.
That 1-1 draw in September saw the end for manager Hossam El-Badry, who was sacked by the Egyptian FA after his side had to wait until the 90th minute for an equaliser, which came courtesy of Mostafa Mohamed.
Portuguese manager Carlos Queiroz was announced as El-Badry’s successor in September and he hopes that the Pharaohs can develop a winning culture under his leadership to help them on their way to qualifying for the Qatar World Cup.
Egypt’s squad would have been disappointed to only draw against Gabon, which allowed table toppers Libya to open a gap between themselves and second place, but after Omar Gaber was sent off for the away side, the 10 players of Egypt can be grateful for the point they did earn in the closing stages of that game.
Libya can achieve their aim of reaching the World Cup this month, with a double-header against Queiroz’s new side as the teams meet for a second time on Monday, but that also gives Egypt the opportunity to leapfrog Libya heading into the final two qualifiers in November.
Clemente’s team continued their 100% record at the beginning of this qualifying campaign last time out when they travelled to the Estadio 11 de Novembro to face Angola, and they came away with a 1-0 win thanks to a 43rd-minute strike from Omar Al Khoja.
Libya are bidding to make it to their first-ever World Cup finals and they have put themselves into a strong position to do so, but Egypt will want to find redemption after their last World Cup appearance in 2018, when they lost all three group games in Russia.
That was Egypt’s first feature at a World Cup since 1990, but three points on Friday, followed by another victory against Libya on Monday will make Queiroz’s side favourites to progress from Group F next month.
Friday’s meeting is the first time Libya have faced Egypt since 2016, and it will be interesting to see how the home side perform under their new manager, which could be a decisive factor towards the conclusion of this qualifying group.
Egypt World Cup Qualifying – Africa form:
Egypt form (all competitions):
Libya World Cup Qualifying – Africa form:
Libya form (all competitions):
We say: Egypt 1-0 Libya
This game is expected to be a tight affair with neither of these sides scoring a flurry of goals in this qualifying campaign, but the boost of a new manager could lift Egypt for the final four games of Group F.
Libya’s start to this qualifying campaign came as a shock to some, and Egypt will be confident that they can leapfrog the current group leaders this month and put themselves in pole position heading into November’s final two games.