• Niger failed to unlock Libya’s defence for a breakthrough despite creating major standout moments.
By Beng Emmanuel
Niger played a nervy goalless draw with Libya in the opening group B of the 2020 African Nations Football championship, CHAN at the newly constructed Japoma Stadium in Douala-Cameroon.
It is the first game in the biennial tournament to end in a draw 24 hours after host Cameroon and Mali made winning debuts on Saturday January 16.
Both teams were particularly sluggish in the first half and created little throughout failing to make the most of their chances.
Njibrilla Issa thought he had put Niger in front but his goal from a one touch finish was ruled for offside just two minutes into the game.
Libya went close to respond but Razak Halidou made two smart saves to prevent Muetaz Al Mehdi twice from opening the scoring. But the keeper almost gifted the opening goal seconds after his first heroic display.
Libya’s keeper Ahmed Azzaqa also had a busy first half. He was forced to two quick saves from the edge of his box – one of those against Ahmed Njibrilla Issa who lost the chance to put the Niger side ahead.
There were little improvement from both teams in the second half. 21-year-old Ibrahima Boubacar missed a glaring opening to take advantage of Libya’s defensive error with his hasty finish far off target.
Niger multiplied chances and pushed forward for a breakthrough. Abdoul Moumoumi superbly curled free-kick was punched away by Libya’s keeper who saved his side from imminent damage.
Despite the absence of major openings in the second half, Libya who won the competition in 2014 struggled to make possession count but should no doubt be contended with a point.
They neither had the resource to even create these chances often or offer any serious threat upfront.
Two time winners the Democratic Republic of Congo have the chance to move top of group B when they face rivals Congo Brazzerville in the second group fixture today.
Libya 0-0 Niger