Orlando Pirates to become first club to play in Libya after end of seven-year ban


Libyan national teams and its clubs had not been able to play on home soil since 2013 due to civil unrest until last Thursday when the Mediterranean Knights hosted Tunisia in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Benina Martyrs Stadium.

Benina Martyrs is the same venue where Pirates will play against Al-Ahli Benghazi in their CAF Confederation Cup tie on Sunday.

CAF recently inspected facilities and the security situation in Libya before giving the go-ahead for games to be played meaning Pirates will make the long trip to Benghazi to face a club coached by Serbian gaffer Dejan Arsov.

Since the ban was imposed, Libya and its clubs competing in the African club competitions had been forced to play their home games in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Mali.

"This is the first CAF club match in more than seven years after the ban was lifted on March 25," Morad Dakhil, a sports journalist with Wasat Television in Libya, tells KickOff.com.

"The stadium is the same [stadium] that the club uses in the Libyan league, but I don’t know if there will fans allowed inside. Al-Ahly Benghazi is one of the four biggest clubs in Libya, and they want to win this match. It is of great importance that the team wins this match – the first at home in over seven years – so that they qualify."

The Libyan club will pin their hopes on the prominent trio of Ibrahim Bodbous, Taha Sharif and Ali Youssef. 

Pirates lead Group A with four points while the Libyans are third with three points behind Enyimba, with ES Setif bottom.