Football

Inside the Libyan national football team

Updated 1304 GMT (2104 HKT) October 26, 2011
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The Libyan national soccer team line up before taking on Zambia in their final Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match. Their campaign has taken place with the civil war in the background. Several of the players, including midfielder Walid el Kahatroushi, decided to fight for the rebels. James Montague
The team couldn't train in Libya, given the security situation, so moved to neighboring Tunisia for an eight-day training camp where they played three warm-up matches against Tunisian club sides. James Montague
Members of the Libyan team's backroom staff pray after training. James Montague
The coaching staff, including coach Marcos Paqueta, watch on as the team plays its final warm-up match against Avenir Sportif De La Marsa. Two of Libya's players are injured in the first half and cannot travel to Zambia, including goalkeeper Guma Mousa. He had come back from fighting on the front line unscathed. Libya won 3-2. James Montague
Fans gather at Tunis airport to bid farewell to the Libya team. Such is the diversity of the Africa Cup of Nations their journey involves a four hour flight south to Cameroon, before going on to Ndola, a mining town on the Zambia-Congo border. James Montague
The team arrives for its first training session at the Watson Stadium, Chingola, as curious local children watch on. James Montague
After a near 24-hour journey from Tunis, the squad struggles in the afternoon heat. James Montague
Zambia only need a point to secure their place in 2012's Nations Cup finals, to be held in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. Libya need to win, although a draw might be enough to secure one of two spots reserved for the best runners-up. Results in Ghana and Nigeria would have to go their way. But the local Zambian press is confident ahead of the match. James Montague
Zambia's fans gather at the Nchanga Stadium hours before kick off. The sound of vuvuzelas is deafening. James Montague
The Libya team wait nervously in the tunnel, waiting for the moment to walk out on to the pitch. There was some confusion over which of Libya's national anthems would be played. The Zambian government is yet to recognize the National Transitional Council. James Montague
But the match finishes 0-0, meaning that Zambia qualify. Libya played six matches, won three and drew three. They were unbeaten during their qualification campaign. James Montague
The players collapse to the floor, some in tears, others praying. But they still do not know if they are through. Then news arrives that results have gone their way. Ghana win and Nigeria concede a late equalizer in their match. Libya qualify for only their third ever Africa Cup of Nations which will take place in January 2012. James Montague