BATA, Equatorial Guinea – Ihaab Boussefi’s two goals weren’t enough to send Libya through to the quarterfinals at the African Cup of Nations despite a 2-1 win over Senegal on Sunday.
Boussefi struck in the fifth and 84th minutes to give Libya victory at Estadio de Bata, but Zambia’s 1-0 win over co-host Equatorial Guinea in Group A’s other game in Malabo — which was played at the same time — saw the Zambians progress.
The striker’s double did lift Libya to its first victory at the Cup of Nations in 30 years, however, and the country’s first win at the tournament on foreign soil.
Libya reached the final of the African Cup at home in 1982, then had two losses and a draw at its only other appearance six years ago.
Boussefi’s early goal raised hopes of an unlikely quarterfinal place for the North Africans, who needed a win combined with a defeat for Zambia to have any chance. He finished neatly after being set up by fellow forward Ahmed Sa’ad.
Deme Ndiaye equalized with a glancing header from a corner in the 11th for Senegal, which was playing for pride, in a frantic start in Bata.
Boussefi claimed a late winner with a sweetly struck volley six minutes from time, but Zambia progressed as group winner ahead of Equatorial Guinea, which had already qualified.
The Libyans still get to go home with a win from a tournament they were never expected to even reach after they emerged from chaos and civil war at home during the qualifying competition to make the finals.
Senegal, meanwhile, slumped to a third straight loss at the tournament and a humiliating end to its Cup of Nations after being tipped as a possible contender.
The Senegalese lost all three of their games by the same scoreline, 2-1, to exit the Cup of Nations without a point for the first time in the team’s history.
It was the second first-round elimination for Senegal in its last two tournaments after also not making it out the group stage in 2008. It didn’t qualify for the African Cup in 2010.