Ten-man Libya shatter Guinea's World Cup hopes
Guinea's hopes of reaching a maiden World Cup are in tatters after Hamdou Elhouni's first-half goal secured victory for ten-man Libya in Monastir on Monday evening, leaving both teams on three points in Group A.
While neither side are mathematically out of the running, both need to win all of their remaining games and see a significant goal-difference swing over Tunisia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, on nine and six points respectively, in order to pull off a miraculous qualification.
Anything other than a Congolese victory against the Eagles of Carthage in Kinshasa on Tuesday evening would also condemn both the Syli Nationale and the Mediterranean Knights to elimination with two more matches to play.
Guinea had given themselves a fighting chance of taking qualification down to the wire after snatching a 3-2 victory at the death in the first match between the two sides on Thursday, with Libya having staged a late comeback with two goals in the last three minutes.
However, there was little of this drama in Monday's drab and ill-tempered affair, with both sides struggling to build coherent attacking moves.
Libya enjoyed the better of the first half and took the lead in the 36th minute when Elhouni controlled a knock down with his knee, burst between the Guinean centre-backs, and tapped the ball past Naby Yattara.
They successfully frustrated the West Africans as they attempted to find a way back into an increasingly ugly contest, with the referee dishing out a whopping 11 yellow cards during the match.
Mohamed El Gadi was dismissed for the 'hosts' just after the hour mark for a second yellow card, but Guinea were unable to make the most of the man advantage and build on last week's victory during an exasperated second-half display.
In the day's earlier fixture, Nigeria moved one step closer to Russia with a 1-1 draw with Cameroon in Yaounde, simultaneously ending the hosts' chances of reaching an eighth World Cup as Africa's champions became the first team officially out of the running.
Moses Simon opened the scoring in the first half as the Super Eagles demonstrated the kind of dynamism that marked last week's 4-0 triumph in Uyo, but Gernot Rohr's side lost their way after the hour mark, with Vincent Aboubakar converting from the spot after Ikechukwu Ezenwa's reckless foul on Arnaud Djoum.