Libya’s new coach Corentin Martins has admitted his side face a tough task if they are to qualify for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.
The Frenchman’s side have been drawn in Group J for the latest qualifiers alongside Tunisia and Equatorial Guinea, who they played in the qualifying campaign for the 2021 finals, as well as Botswana.
The Mediterranean Knights finished bottom of their group as they failed to reach the 2021 tournament in Cameroon, with Tunisia and Equatorial Guinea clinching the top two places.
“It will not be easy, but we will fight right to the end to try and qualify,” former Mauritania coach Martins told BBC Sport Africa.
“Every campaign and every match is different, there is a difference between the past and upcoming competitions.
“Now Libya is just like Tunisia, we both have new coaches at this stage. We are setting a program for these important games – I know that time is short, but it that won’t be a problem for us.”
The first two qualifiers will be held between 30 May and 14 June, with two further games in September before a final pair next March.
Martins, 52, led Mauritania to their first ever Nations Cup finals in 2019 and repeated the feat two years later, but lost his job before this year’s tournament in Cameroon after a poor start to qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
He was appointed as the new Libya coach last week to replace Spaniard Javier Clemente, who left his second stint with the North African nation by mutual consent.
Libya have not qualified for the Nations Cup finals since the 2012 tournament in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, while their best finish at the continental showpiece came when they finished runners-up on home soil in 1982, losing the final to Ghana on penalties.
During his unveiling as coach Martins said: “I have come here to work and achieve something for Libyan football, and I thank the officials for giving me this confidence.”
He also went onto praise the quality of Libya’s players, having seen the national team in action on several occasions, which he said proved to him they are of a high enough standard to enjoy success.