Football is the only thing that makes Libyans happy – El Monir
Although there is turmoil in his home country, Orlando City left-back Mohamed El Monir is clinging onto the hopes of making millions of Libyans smile with a victory over their much-fancied South African opponents.
JOHANNESBURG - As Libya prepare for an African Cup of Nations Group E qualifier against South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in Durban on Saturday, defender Mohamed El Monir says that football is the only thing that is making his countrymen smile at the moment in the war-torn North African country.
With an ongoing civil war in the country where armed militants around the capital city of Tripoli are at loggerheads with each other has forced the United Nations to declare a state of emergency. Armed militants have been fighting for control of the Libyan capital since the regime of former long-serving President Moammar Gadhafi was toppled in 2011.
Although there is turmoil in his home country, Orlando City left-back Mohamed El Monir is clinging onto the hopes of making millions of Libyans smile with a victory over their much-fancied South African opponents and stretch their lead at the top of Group E, which will go a long way to earning qualification for the continent's showpiece in Cameroon in June 2019.
“I can tell you now that the only thing that makes Libyans smile right now during the war and the fighting is football. Football is the only thing that makes people in Libya breathe and feel happy, so we are under pressure to perform because of them.”
Football in Libya was also affected by the violence for nearly two years for securities reason, which has made the lives of many Libyan footballers difficult. Ranked 21st in Africa, the Mediterranean Knights, are just six placed below Bafana who are ranked 15th in the continent.
The 26-year-old El Monir believes that the young Libyan team have the ability to give Bafana a real run for their money at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
“The South African team have very good players, some of them playing in good European leagues, which for us presents us with an opportunity to really do well against them and prove ourselves. Winning this game is going to be very important for us, we have the chance to go further in the group because we are going to have even more difficult game away to Nigeria. So we really want to win this game in South Africa.”
Libya currently tops the group on goal difference ahead of Bafana Bafana courtesy of a 6-1 victory over bottom-placed Seychelles last year.
Kickoff at the Moses Mabhida Stadium is at 15:00 on Saturday afternoon.