DR Congo vs Zambia
A tale of two halves
The first half saw Zambia go ahead thanks to a Given Singuluma goal, giving Zambia confidence and seeing Kennedy Mweene largely undisturbed after that goal. On the DR Congo side we saw very ineffective wingers, who were blocked well by the Chipolopolo defensive block, a lion’s share of possession, and also an ineffective and shaky pair of centre backs.
The second half was to be another plate of rice. Zambia parked the bus to defend their slight advantage against their noisy neighbours. These same noisy neighbours managed to snatch a draw after a beautiful cross from Cedrick Mabwati and a cool-as-an-icecube finish from the Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie.
Game turns on Florent Ibenge’s clutch substitutions
After an hour of inefficiency in the front of DR Congo attack, the duo composed of the freshly-crowned best player in Africa Mubele Ndombe and Hervé Kagé were replaced by their two teammates Cédric Mabwati and Junior Kabananga. The effect of these two majestic subs was felt instantly. The fresh Mabwati provided the assist for Bolasie’s classy finish. The new pair of attackers brought more zeal into the DR Congo attack but just not quite enough to bring them the three points.
Tunisia vs Cape Verde
By Maher Mezahi
Cape Verde looked much like the same side that contested the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. Rui Aguas played his cards correctly against Georges Leekens. The Blue Sharks were a compact unit, which repeatedly disrupted Tunisia’s passing game. When the Carthage Eagles did turn the ball over, Cape Verde broke quickly, catching the north African backline out of sorts.
Tunisia struggled to break down a stubborn Cape Verde block, and though credit for that must be given to Aguas, it was also painfully evident that Leekens was missing Fakhreddine Ben Youssef. The FC Metz striker, who has been ruled out of the tournament with injury, provides hard running in the channels that can stretch defences and force them out of a shell. His replacement Ahmed Akaichi battled well, but he is nowhere near as mobile as Ben Youssef.
Like Akaichi, Cape Verde’s targetman were largely inefficient. Djaniny then Julio Tavares both expended stores of energy, chasing defenders and engaging in aerial duels, but neither fashioned goalscoring opportunities. Aguas may then prefer a more mobile option as a spearhead. Ryan Mendes, or Kuca occupying a decentered role as a false nine might prove more efficient.
CS Sfax’s Mohamed Ali Moncer made quite the first impression in his first really important match. Moncer was preferred to former wonderkid Msakni, and he justified the decision with creative passing and a goal threat. Though he did not get a chance to exhibit his long-range shooting, it is perhaps the most potent weapon in his arsenal. If Moncer can repeat his man of the match performance vs. Zambia and DR Congo, he can become an integral member of this side.