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Tunisia on brink of elimination after Gabon draw

January 17, 2010

Gabon 0 Tunisia 0
Estadio Alto da Chela, Lubango
African Cup of Nations Group D
17th January 2010

Another disappointing display from Tunisia means they will have to beat Cameroon in their final group game to progress, while Gabon only need a point against Zambia to secure qualification.  Neither side did enough to deserve a win in the heavy rain in Lubango today. Both defences came out on top in an uninspiring game, with Haggui again in form at the back for Tunisia.

Gabon could have gone through with a game to spare with victory today, and may see this as an opportunity missed, although they will be favourites against Zambia on Thursday. Tunisia saw more of the ball but Gabon were a strong defensive unit and, like against Cameroon, looked dangerous on the counter. Inside of ten minutes Cousin set up Aubameyang at the near post but his poor first touch allowed Tunisia keeper Mathlouthi to smother. The Black Panthers twice caused problems for Tunisia from corners early on but both times headed over. Tunisian winger M’Sakni fired a shot from distance but Ovono saved comfortably. The Carthage Eagles lone striker Chermiti had a great chance to score, capitalising on a mistake at the back by Manga, but he slipped as he looked to take the ball around the keeper, enabling a defender to get back and block the shot. Gabon edged back into the game before half time, and Mouloungui headed a chance over the bar after a Gabon free-kick was poorly dealt with.

Tunisia's Youssef Msakni goes to ground in a scrappy game in Lubango, where a draw was a fair result

Tunisia came out stronger after the break, and both sides continued to create half-chances. As the half wore on Gabon became increasingly less adventurous, the point suited them far better going into a final game with Zambia. Tunisia were also running out of ideas, as the game became rather petulant. The flow was consistently disrupted by a series of fouls, although the referee was over-zealous in his decision-making. Only in the last fifteen minutes did Tunisia start to play with any real urgency, realising that it would be a good idea to avoid a must-win final game against Cameroon. Tunisian substitute Ahmed Akaichi had a glaring opportuniy with ten minutes left but he smashed the ball onto the crossbar from close range, but the linesman, incorrectly, had his flag up for offside so it would not have counted anyway. Gabon could have snatched a win in the final minute of stoppage time but Roguy Meye headed well wide after failing to make proper contact with Mouloungui’s free-kick from the right of the box.

Everything is still left to play for in Group D, but Gabon are in the strongest position on four points, while Tunisia are on two. Cameroon will need to get off the mark by beating Zambia in this evening’s game.

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