By Seraj Essul and Reem Tombokti.
Tripoli 6 June 2013:
Libya’s formal return to international football, after the lifting of the FIFA ban, . . .[restrict]has triggered careful security preparations for tomorrow’s “watershed” match against DR Congo. “We know the world is watching us,” said a Tripoli security spokesman.
Officials are tight-lipped about the precise nature of the measures that have been put in place for the World Cup Qualifier at Tripoli’s Sports City, refusing even to say how many extra security personnel have been drafted in.
However, Mohammed Abu Abdallah, media spokesman for the police in Tripoli told the Libya Herald that a plan was in place to guard the stadium and the main road and surrounding streets. “ We are also trying to make it easier for fans to enter the stadium” he said.
He also issued a general appeal to the public to be vigilant. “ We are asking civil societies and everybody to cooperate with us to make it a successful event.” Security measures by themselves could never be enough. “ We are also relying on the awareness of the public. Right now Libya is the focus of attention. Everybody is watching us now.”
Mazen Dribika, head of the information office at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, told the Libya Herald that his ministry had coordinated with the Ministry of Interior to secure the teams and supporters.
“We have provided financial and moral support for our team” he said, “This game is a watershed, because it is the first official match for our national team after the lifting of the FIFA ban. We understand the importance of sport in the development of Libya. We are continually trying to assure that our team receives all the support it needs.”
The visiting team’s management said that it is relaxed about the security arrangements.
“The Libyan government has given us assurances. So far everything is good. We encountered no security problems at all. We are safe and guarded.” Gilbert Naiya, the assistant coach of the Congolese team, explained to the Libya Herald, “We are very pleased until now with all the security precautions taken. Let’s hope that everything continues this way,” he added.
The Congolese party arrived in Tripoli on Tuesday with 22 players and about ten accompanying officials. The squad has been training daily at Sports City.
It is not thought, however, that there will be many Congo fans at the match and no Congolese journalists at all, because of problems obtaining Libyan visas.
When asked about Libya’s decisive 3-0 win last week against Uganda, Naiya laughed and said “Those are very good preparations, but we are preparing as well. We’ll see what will happen on the field.”
Libya is currently in second place in its qualifying group, one point behind Cameroon. Congo is third and Togo fourth and last.
© Libya Herald [/restrict]