New Libya coach Hamdi Bataw has said his “most important” task is trying to persuade “a number of players” out of international retirement, as the Mediterranean Knights bid to qualify for a first Africa Cup of Nations since 2012.
The 42-year-old has been appointed to succeed Frenchman and former Mauritania coach Corentin Martins, who lost his job after a disappointing African Nations Championship campaign.
Bataw will work alongside assistants Moad Aboud and Driss El Mrabet – and has been chosen after the Libyan Football Federation expressed their preference to appoint a Libyan-born coaching team.
“First of all, it is a national mission and you do not need much thinking in order to make such a decision,” Bataw told BBC Sport Africa.
“I am no stranger to Libyan football and I know what the fans aspire to.
“There are many things that I am working on, the most important of which is persuading a number of players to represent the national team after their decision to retire.”
Libya have work to do in their quest to qualify for next year’s Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast. They are third in their qualifying group, having beaten Botswana but suffered defeat to Equatorial Guinea.
They now face a double-header in March against neighbours and group leaders Tunisia, with Bataw excited by the challenge.
“Facing Tunisia in the qualifiers is the first thing that awaits us. It is a derby and not like any other match. The players understand that.
“I count a lot on the support of the Libyan fans in order to overcome the last period of failures and I will work to achieve that.”
This will be a first venture into international coaching for Bataw who has previously spent time in charge of Libyan top flight teams including Al Ittihad, Abu Salim and most recently Al Madina.
Souce: BBC Sports/Africa