Bata (Equatorial Guinea): Libya were basking on Monday in the satisfaction of a formidable achievement against difficult odds despite departing the African Nations Cup after the completion of the group stage.
A first win in 30 years for the country at the finals came on Sunday when they beat Senegal 2-1 but it was not enough to see them into the last eight.
However, four points from their three games in Equatorial Guinea will have been beyond their wildest expectations less than year ago when their football federation headquarters were damaged in the bombing of Tripoli and their Brazilian coach and assistants had to flee the beleaguered capital.
"There is a great satisfaction in the victory because of the current situation in Libya," said coach Marcos Paqueta, who left for Brazil when the uprising against the Muammar Gaddafi regime broke out in February but returned without having being paid for seven months to lead his side to an unlikely qualification.
"This result is a good performance for Libya. It`s a tribute to the work of the federation that has put in a lot of effort to ensure the players were in top conditions.”
"We must commend the efforts of the players."
Libya had to play five of their six qualifiers away and saw their team ravaged by the effects of the war. Several key players were kicked out for their support of the Gaddafi regime, including influential captain Tarek Tayeb who is now in exile in Kuwait.
Others - including three in the 23-man squad at the Nations Cup - took up arms and fought with the rebels who eventually overthrew Gaddafi in August and September, a few weeks before Libya produced a stunning draw in Zambia to qualify for the finals for only the third time.
Paqueta had his squad preparing in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates for two months before the Nations Cup finals and is keen to see out the rest of his four-year contract, signed ironically with Gaddafi`s son in mid-2010.
"No big surprise like this happened in football since Denmark (winning the European Championship) in 1992," asserted Libyan Football Association secretary Ahmed Abdel Majid.
The majority of the Libyan squad now return home to an uncertain future with their league in hiatus.
There are plans to host a club tournament in February but no signs yet that the situation in the country is stable enough for regular competition, Confederation of African Football officials said.