Tunisia 2-1 Zambia
Be careful to not be wasteful
A sentence which would sum up perfectly the crunch between these two former AFCON winners. The first half which saw total domination by the Chipolopolos, led by Rainford “The Master” Kalaba, and a bunch of chances which weren’t exploited by Zambia. Tunisia survived these waves of copper bullets thanks to a strong first half display from Ayman Balbouli and could have even been awarded a penalty again
The second half saw Zambia finally embody their domination over the Carthage Eagles with a goal by Emmanuel Mayuka via a poor Tunisian defence. Zambia kept going forward to try to score a second goal and bury Les Aigles’ last hopes but the mighty Tunisian realism struck again.
The turning point: Ahmed Akaichi revives Tunisia hopes
69th minute. Corner kick for a Tunisia team that has been dominated since the start of the game. Substitute Mohamed Ali Moncer takes it, there is deflection off a Zambia defender, and it lands with Ahmed “Akcha” Akaichi, who makes no mistake and puts the ball in the net.
A goal which literally reanimated the lethargic Eagles. From then they were the hungrier team which going forward, and they snatched a late winner on a trademark counter, finished by a pinpoint cross from Youssef Msakni to Yassin Chikhaoui head, who sent a bullet into the Copperbullets’ net and, at the same time, Tunisia supporters into raptures.
A crucial win for Tunisia which sends them ever closer to the AFCON 2015 quarter-finals, and a defeat which gives Zambia and Master Kalaba no options but to go for the win on Monday against Cape Verde if they want to continue their adventure in Teodoro Obiang’s country.
Cape Verde 0-0 DR Congo
By Maher Mezahi
Cape Verde are still a threat from set-pieces. Babanco’s crosses from the right flank always land on a Blue Shark head, and Heldon threatens from short range. Dead balls brought the only excitement in an otherwise drab 0-0 against DR Congo on Thursday night.
The re-introduction of Dieumerci Mbokani in Florent Ibenge’s attack seems to have thrown a monkey’s wrench into the fluidity of The Leopards’ attack. During qualifiers, Junior Kabananga, Neeskens Kebano, and Jeremy Bokila contributed to a dynamic attack that put four past a hapless Cote D’Ivoire. In Equatorial Guinea, DR Congo have struggled with their finishing, and locals must be wondering if Ibenge made the wrong decision in bringing Mbokani to the Cup of Nations in place of Mputu.
Cape Verde insist on playing with a bruising targetman. Djaniny or Julio Tavares occupy a focal point in attack, but both are well past their best. A more mobile option in Kuca or Ryan Mendes would allow for a sharper attack, and would permit Cape Verde to maximize the potential of their attacking midfielders. It will be interesting to see if Rui Aguas opts to drop Djaniny or Julio Tavares in their final fixture against Zambia.