After two match days of mixed fortunes for both Les Aigles de Carthage and Les Léopards the two teams will lock horns today in the last match day of an open Group B.
Two different routes
Both Congo DR and Tunisia began their AFCON 2015 adventure with a draw. Congo DR snatched a draw from Zambia in the TP MaZambia Derby thanks to a Yannick Bolasie goal, and could have even take the all three points if they had awakened from their slumber earlier in the game.
Hours after that curtain raiser, Tunisia received the same fate with the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde. A dull first half from Georges Leekens’ men, who were very happy to go into the dressing room with a draw, was following by a second half which would see Tunisia returning from the Ebebiyin lockers with more offensive intentions. And their positive intentions would be rewarded in the 70th minute with a Mohamed Ali Moncer goal, only for that opener to be thwarted by Heldon through a controversial penalty equaliser.
The second match day would separate the two teams. Tunisia managed to get full marks against a very wasteful Zambian side thanks to Yassine Chikhaoui heading home from a pinpoint Youssef Msakni cross.
Florent Ibenge’s men, in contrast, didn’t get the same fate as their Tunisian counterparts. In one of the most boring games of the tournament, Les Léopards didn’t manage to break down Cape Verde and were offensively very ineffective.
Less tensions than in the past
Years ago (notably, the 2011 African Nations Championship [the AFCON for domestic-based players]) this Congo DR-Tunisia game would have been billed as a very crunchy game due to the continental club rivalry between TP Mazembe and Espérance Tunis formed during their African Champions League excursions.
According to Congo DR coach Florent Ibenge, though, the tables have turned. “It was only an epiphenomenon,” he said in the lead up to this match. “Look, we (AS Vita Club) faced CS Sfaxien in this CAF Champions League edition and everything was perfect either in Sfax and Kinshasa.”
An appeasement between both teams has perhaps also been provoked also Tunisia unintentionally helping Congo DR qualification to AFCON 2015. In not allowing Egypt to beat them by two clear goals (what the Pharaohs needed to qualify), despite having already qualified themselves, Tunisia ensured Les Leopards would qualify as the best third placed team. Tonight, however, the rivalry will be renewed.