BATA – Zambia and Libya played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in horrible conditions on a rain-soaked Bata pitch.
The match was delayed by over an hour, but once underway, Libya were first to adapt to the difficult surface.
Striker Ahmed Saad Osman scored early in each half, with two wonderfully taken goals for the much-improved Libyans.
Emmanuel Mayuka brought Zambia level before brilliantly setting up another equaliser for Christopher Katongo.
The Group A game initially looked like it would be called off, after the match officials inspected the soaked surface.
But it went ahead, an hour and 15 minutes late, and the Mediterranean Knights were quick off the mark on the muddy pitch, with Osman picking up a beautifully threaded ball from Walid Elkhatroushi and finishing brilliantly to Kennedy Mweene’s left on the five-minute mark.
Zambia took their time to find their feet in the conditions, but struck back on the half-hour.
Mayuka responded to a harsh booking, by finishing confidently with a right-foot volley at the far post from Rainford Kalaba’s cross, beyond Samir Abod in the Libyan goal.
The Chipolopolo gradually found their passing game and adapted well, but fell behind once more as Libya struck two minutes into the second half.
Substitute Ihab Albusaifi delivered a good ball from the right and Osman collected, before dancing around Zambia’s defence and burying it past Kennedy Mweene.
But Zambia came back once again, with scorer turning provider as Mayuka helps the ball on with a wonderful overhead kick for captain Christopher Katongo to head in from close range.
Zambia introduced Felix Katongo, who played for Libyan side Al-Ittihad for a period, and he was unlucky not to score with his first touch, with the ball coming in from Mayuka, just behind him.
Both sides were forced to settle for the first draw of the tournament, but did well to provide such entertainment, given the conditions.
Zambia coach Herve Renard was critical of the officals after the game, however, calling the decision to allow the match to go ahead “unbelievable”.
“I’m very disappointed that the ref allowed the game to start,” he told BBC Sport.