FAIRYTALE qualifiers Libya enjoyed a bittersweet day on Sunday, defeating Senegal for their first Caf Africa Cup of Nations win since 1982, yet missing out on the quarterfinals.
The Libyans’ 2-1 defeat of already eliminated Senegal in Bata was insufficient to lift them into the last eight after Zambia beat Equatorial Guinea 1-0 in Malabo.
That left Zambia as the Group A winners, with the significant reward of avoiding a probable quarterfinal date with competition favourites Ivory Coast. That dubious honour now looks set to fall to Group A runners-up Equatorial Guinea.
Topping the table means the Zambian Copper Bullets are likely to face Angola or Sudan in the quarterfinals next Saturday.
Zambia’s French coach Herve Renard said: “The aim was to secure first place, as in 2010 when we finished in front of Cameroon. Here, we’re ahead of the co-hosts, who were on cloud nine after beating Senegal.
“It wasn’t a great match but the important thing was to get the points. Now it’s imperative we get to the semifinals for the first time since 1996.”
His Equatorial Guinea counterpart Gilson Paulo said: “I’m disappointed because this loss has a bearing on the rest of the competition. But we are still not certain we’ll be facing Ivory Coast.”
Zambia captain and striker Christopher Katongo settled a cagey Nuevo Estadio de Malabo clash of few scoring chances on 67 minutes, beating Brazil-born goalkeeper Danilo with a hard low shot.