Sports Mole previews Sunday’s African Nations Championship clash between Libya and Niger, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
2014 winners Libya begin their quest for a second Total African Nations Championship title in their Group B clash with Niger on Sunday.
The Mena of Niger will be making their first CHAN appearance in four years, after failing to qualify for the tournament in 2018.
Libya are the only team at the African Nations Championship on invitation, after Tunisia, who eliminated them in the qualifiers, backed out of the bi-annual competition due to a congested domestic calendar.
The Mediterranean Knights of Libya are led by former Benfica and Sampdoria coach Zoran Filipovic, alongside senior national team coach Mohamed Al-Kikli.
Before picking up the Libya role, Filipovic plied his trade in the South African Premier Soccer League, where he rescued Lamontville Golden Arrows from impending relegation within three months in charge.
Despite the Libyan Premier League being suspended for almost two years, the 67-year-old head coach has named a 28-man squad comprising players from seven clubs across Libya, including Al Ahli Tripoli defender Rabee Allafi.
Shortly after their touchdown in Cameroon, Libya took part in a warm up friendly match at the Japoma Stadium Annex on Thursday, where they secured an impressive 1-1 draw against the Chipolopolo of Zambia.
Niger qualified for the 2020 African Nations Championship at the expense of Ivory Coast, thanks to a 2-0 first-leg victory at the General Seyni Kountche Stadium in Niamey.
Harouna Doula Gabde‘s men are making their third CHAN appearance, and they will aim to surpass their 2011 quarter-final exit, which is their best-ever finish to date.
The Mena participated in the invitational friendly competition last week, finishing third with one win, a draw with host nation Cameroon and a disappointing 3-0 defeat to the Cranes of Uganda.
While Libya follow this fixture with a highly-anticipated clash with DR Congo, Niger will take on Congo-Brazzaville at the newly constructed Japoma Stadium in Douala.
Libya form (all competitions): LWLLLD
Niger form (all competitions): WWLDWL
Both nations have clean bills of health with all players available for selection, after undergoing a routine coronavirus test before heading to Cameroon.
Al Nasr man Fathi Talhy was summoned by the Mediterranean Knights, as Filipovic looks to rely on the 32-year-old goalkeeper’s experience.
Sahel SC talisman Ibrahim Djibrilla is expected to return to the Niger starting XI on Sunday, as he was rested against Uganda, after bagging three goals in the first two pre-CHAN friendly matches.
Libya possible starting lineup:
Talhi; Makari, Elammi, Kalil, Allafi; Honi, Mohamed, Shadi; Makri, Misrati, Magdi
Niger possible starting lineup:
Oumarou; Harouna, Koudize, Mamoudou, Djibrilla; Goumey, Badamassi; Aziz, Issa, Boubacar; Adamou
We say: Libya 1-2 Niger
The Mena of Niger have proven to be a resilient side with a number of individually gifted players, and they should comfortably come out on top at the end of 90 minutes.
Top betting tip
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