Libya's Elmaryami aims blame at tired players after Nigeria defeat

Mohamed Aleyat of Libya Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Libya coach Omar Mohamed Elmaryami believes fatigue was to blame for the Mediterranean Knights' slump against Nigeria in their second African Nations Championship clash.

The North Africans had been one of the stand-out teams during the first round of matches after easing past Equatorial Guinea with a fine attacking display, but were shorn of energy, dynamism and quality for their showdown with the Super Eagles.

Mohamed Aleyat, so effective in wide areas against Nzalang Nacional, delivered an anonymous display, while Saleh Taher Saeid - one of the competition's outstanding players so far - was denied a look in by Nigeria's defenders.

"We realised that some players weren't fit and so I tried to motivate them to get them to play with enthusiasm," Elmaryami told journalists. "The Libyan team play well when we move the ball, but the players were too hasty [in possession].

"Our counter attacks weren't accurate, and this is what led to the loss,' he added. "I was counting on three or four players in wide areas, but they didn't play the role they should have played. They were too slow.

"This led to the players playing backwards," Elmaryami continued. "We didn't get hold of the ball enough, we weren't fast enough.

"We should have put more pressure [on Nigeria] and taken all three points."

While Libya offered little going forward, the Eagles were disjointed in attack, and that deadlock was only broken in the 79th minute when Sunday Faleye slammed the ball home past Mohamed Nashnush following an Osas Okoro corner.

"We studied the strengths of the Nigeria team, they have a really strong team," Elmaryami continued. "I asked the players to put pressure on them through the centre, to work the flanks, but we were too hasty and should have passed more."

Libya face Rwanda in their final group game, which is shaping up to be a winner-takes-all clash, while Nigeria face Equatorial Guinea in Tanger.