Libya midfielder Ahmed Saad Osman gave his country the lead on two occasions on a soggy pitch but the North Africans were denied a famous win as Zambia twice levelled the score thanks to stikers Emmanuel Mayuka and Christopher Katongo.
Kick-off was delayed for over an hour due to heavy rains that beat down on the Equatorial Guinean capital and its surroundings. Both teams were forced to stretch a second time as they waited for match officials and tournament organisers to give the green light despite the heavily flooded pitch.
Zambia coach Herve Renard was visibly annoyed with the decision and his ire would only increase 12 minutes into the match when Libya’s Walid Al Khatroushi provided a defence splitting pass for Osman who slotted past a badly positioned Chipolopolo goalkeeper.
The poor playing conditions didn’t allow the match to reach an outstanding technical level but the opponents did rather well to provide entertainment despite the difficult conditions. Lofted balls were the best option to avoid the enormous puddles, with the Zambians proving more effective at using the tactic.
Renard’s team logically levelled the score through an acrobatic Mayuka volley on 28 minutes after Rainford Kalaba had provided an intelligent cross into the penalty box. The Copper Bullets had some more chances to take the lead but failed to do so before halftime.
Much like the first-half, Libya surprised their opponents with another Osman goal. Chisamba Lungu’s failed clearance allowed the Club Africain player to wriggle his way past a second defender, slicing his shot right onto Kennedy Mweene’s post and in.
The North Africans’ lead lasted even less than their first one though and it only took nine minutes for the Zambians to pull level again, this time through a Christopher Katongo header off a Mayuka scissor kick cross.
Mayuka continued to cause problems for the Libyan defence, most notably on 76 minutes when he linked up with substitute Felix Katongo and left several defenders in his wake before squaring a ball that his teammate was unable to steer on target.
Ahmed Zuway had a late strike on goal for the Mediterranean Knights but Mweene was equal to it and the game ended on a 2-2 draw after Zambia were denied a penalty shout by the match official.
The result leaves the Zambians on four points and severely dents the Libyans’ already slim chances of qualifying for the second round.