By Morad Dakhil
Javier Clemente has said he is satisfied with the level of his Libya players despite losing 1-0 to Liberia in his first match back as coach.
The Spanish coach officially began his second stint in charge of the Mediterranean Knights on Sunday after leading them between 2013 and 2016.
The highlight of his first spell as coach was winning the 2014 African Nations Championship in South Africa with a win over Ghana in the final of the tournament for locally-based players.
“Despite the loss, I am satisfied with the level of the players,” the 71-year-old coach said.
“My general assessment of the quality of the players available to me is that the current Libyan national team is a bigger name and stronger than the year in which I won the African championship for local players in 2014.”
Liberia won the match despite playing more than 80 minutes with 10 men after the sending off of Sampson Dweh in the ninth minute, the only goal of the game was scored by Czech-based Oscar Dorley from the penalty spot.
The game was played in Tunisia where Libya are holding a training camp ahead of an Arab Cup qualifier against Sudan in the Qatari capital Doha on 19 June.
A win in the one-off game will see them progress to the finals in November and December also in Qatar.
Clemente was appointed by the Libyan Football Federation to replace Montenegrin Zoran Filipovic, who was sacked at the end of May.
“I am happy to be back in Libya again, I know that the Libyan fans love me, and that is why I agreed to return,” the former Spain coach told BBC Sport Africa soon after his unveiling.
“I do not think about the time of failure with Libya, I only remember the moments of joy when we won the African Cup for local players and the great reception by the Libyans.”
Although Libya will not be at January’s Africa Cup of Nations finals they are in the group stage of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with those games set for September, October and November.
“We are waiting for the World Cup qualifiers and tough game against Egypt, Gabon and Angola, and I have great confidence in all players in order to make a great effort to progress.”
The head of the Libyan Football Federation, Abdel Hakim Al-Shalmani, called for support for the new coach.
“Clemente was chosen to coach the Libyan national team because he knows us well and has previously dealt with us,” he told BBC Sport Africa.
“It was not a random choice, I ask everyone to support him in the next stage until we achieve our goals.”