Eswatini and Libya kick off their quest for a place in the 2026 World Cup as they face each other at the Mbombela Stadium on Friday.
Both teams, coming off a disappointing 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers campaign, aim to secure a victory and start their journey toward a first-ever World Cup appearance on a positive note.
In their recent outing, Eswatini suffered a 2-1 loss to Botswana in a friendly match on October 16 at the Mbombela Stadium. Tumisang Orebonye and Lemogang Maswena scored for Botswana, while Neliso Meyeni’s 56th-minute equalizer wasn’t enough for Eswatini. Dominic Kunene’s team has gone four consecutive games without a win, with two losses and two draws, including a goalless draw against Burkina Faso in the final game of the AFCON qualifiers on September 8.
Libya, on the other hand, concluded their World Cup qualifiers preparations with a 2-1 friendly victory over Sudan on Saturday. Faisal Al-Badri and Omar Al-Khoja scored for Libya, securing a morale-boosting win. Libya has been unbeaten in their three warm-up friendly fixtures since the start of October, claiming victories over Liberia and Sudan and drawing 1-1 against Niger on October 17.
While Libya seeks a better start to the World Cup qualifiers after a disappointing AFCON qualifying campaign, they face the challenge of improving their away form. The team has lost each of their last six competitive matches on the road, scoring only twice and conceding 12 goals during that period.
Eswatini has named an experienced squad for the qualifiers, including defensive duo Kwakhe Tfwala and Philiso Newman. Sabelo Ndzinisa and Philani Mkhonto are expected to lead the attack, while Khanyakwezwe Shabalala, recovering from a muscle injury, is fit to join the Libya squad.
In Libya’s lineup, veteran midfielder Al-Badri is likely to retain his role in the center of the park, partnering with Suhaib Ben Suleiman. Ali Yusuf and Taher Ben Amer are expected to form the center-back pairing, with Aymen Al Tihar starting in goal.