Libya are to host a Confederation of African Football (CAF) club match for the first time since former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi was overthrown, with home club al-Nasr to confront Moroccan visitors FAR Rabat this weekend in a fight for a place in the CAF Confederation Cup’s last-16.
The security-related ban on Libyan national teams and clubs playing at home was lifted last month after a four-day fact-finding mission by a CAF delegation to the north African country.
Nasr, from Libya’s second city, Benghazi, are the first to benefit from the decision as they seek to overcome a 1-0 first-leg defeat by 2005 Confederation Cup winners FAR three weeks ago.
Libyan authorities have battled to stamp out post-revolution violence after a 2011 uprising ended Qaddafi’s four-decade reign.
Cairo-based CAF officials will watch developments in Libya closely since the country is scheduled to host the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in its capital, Tripoli, Benghazi and Misrata, which saw bitter fighting during the revolt.
Forced to play a preliminary-round home fixture in Tunisia, Nasr were held goalless by El Watani Khartoum, but won 1-0 in Sudan with an Ahmed Saad goal.
FAR, who received a preliminary bye, defeated the Dolphins of Nigeria 3-1 over two legs to lift the 2005 Confederation Cup and reached the final again a year later, losing on the away-goals rule to Etoile Sahel of Tunisia.
Etoile — the only club to have won all five CAF club competitions — take a precarious 2-1 lead over African debutants Onze Createurs to Bamako, Mali. The Malians proved a formidable force at home in the previous round, whipping Ivorian visitors Stella Adjame 3-0 through goals from Aime Koffi, Hamidou Sinayoko and Mohamed Cisse.
CS Sfaxien of Tunisia, the only Confederation Cup winners to have successfully defend the title, hold a 4-2 advantage over Gamtel ahead of a journey to the Gambia’s capital, Banjul.
Clubs well placed to reach the next round include Diables Noirs of Congo Brazzaville, Recreativo Caala of Angola, ENPPI of Egypt, Wydad Casablanca of Morocco and Azam of Tanzania.
Meanwhile, at least one former CAF Champions League title-holder will fall by the wayside this weekend when Vita Club of the Democratic Republic of the Congo host Zamalek of Egypt in the round-of-32 highlight.
There are nine winners of the premier African club competition, three winners of the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup and two winners of the now defunct African Cup Winners Cup among the teams in second-leg action.
Zamalek, who take a smaller-than-expected 1-0 lead to Kinshasa, have won the CAF Champions League five times, a record bettered only by Cairo neighbors and title-holders Al Ahly SC, with seven victories.