Libya blame officiating as Khazri gives Tunisia victory

Wahbi Khazri
Tunisia and Sunderland striker Wahbi Khazri

Libya coach Jalal Damja blamed 'poor officiating' after his side lost 1-0 to Tunisia in their latest African 2018 World Cup qualifier on Friday night.

Libya conceded a penalty and had a man sent off in the match which was played in Algeria on security grounds, with Libya dropping to the bottom of Group A.

Sunderland's Wahbi Khazri scored from the penalty spot for the Carthage Eagles, after Libya captain Ali Salama fouled Taha Yassine Khenissi four minutes into the second half.

"I think it was the right decision, Ali Salama was the last man," Damja told BBC Sport.

"Though Tunisia - I think it was Aymen Abdennour - committed the same foul, but I don't want to talk about officiating.

"This is our reality, this is African football and we know officiating is a big question mark," Damja added.

Libya appeared to have opened the scoring in the 10th minute when Anis Saltou nodded a looping header over Aymen Mathlouthi.

However, Kenyan official Davies Omweno consulted with his linesman and whistled for offside, cutting celebrations short.

The match was played in Algeria as an ongoing civil war continues in Libya. Playing on neutral territory is a clear disadvantage, though the Mediterranean Knights insist that they will continue to battle the odds.

"It's true if we had 50,000 or 60,000 spectators, we might perform better. But what can you do? This is our situation." Damja lamented.

"Nothing is impossible in football. We will fight for our chances."

The victory takes Tunisia to the top of Group A with two victories from two group games. Libya are bottom with two consecutive defeats.

Seven more African qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup in Russia will take place on Saturday, with a further two more scheduled for Sunday, including the other Group A fixture between Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo in Conakry.

Only the five group winners will qualify to represent Russia at the World Cup in 2018.

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