Africa Cup of Nations – Sunday 15th January
Having witnessed this match it quite easily goes into my ten most strangest games of all time. Senegal who played fine in patches and played very much within themselves somehow ended up with a two nil win over a Tunisia side that gave almost everything, had more possession, more shots and more bad luck than seen for a long time.
In one eleven minute period in the second half Tunisia had 8 chances to hit the back of the net but didn’t and when they did it was offside.
Tunisia almost took the lead in the opening two minutes, but Ahmed Akaichi’s header skimmed the post and this early period of play mirrored the whole match.
Senegal took the lead through Sadio Mane’s penalty which was low and to the right after Cheikhou Kouyate had been hacked down only a minute after Keita who had a phenomenal game played a lovely one two and then shot wide with the goal at his mercy.
Akaichi almost scored for Tunisia on 16 minutes with a shot that went narrowly wide.
Senegal then pulled the sucker punch with a powerful header from Kara Mbodj in the thirtieth minute to make it 2-0 to Senegal and a very bitter pill for Tunisia to swallow.
Sadio Mane made a mistake for Senegal five minutes before the break and on Tunisia’s breakaway Youseff Msakni blasted over.
The second half was one way traffic with Tunisia with wave after wave of attacks including a missed free kick from 25 yards.
A great move from Senegal after 50 minutes should have wrapped it up for Senegal but still Tunisia committed players forward and attacked non stop with chances with a Diouf missed header, the number 7 having an open goal and number 23 having a shot saved by the Senegalese keeper before the same player blasted over. This wall followed by a scramble in the goal and then an inch perfect cross with a header over the top. All these opportunities happened for Tunisia in a 3 minute period but somehow the Senegal flood defences stoof firm.
Senegal almost had another breakaway goal of their own when substitute Starr’s cross from the right flew back off the woodwork and away from danger.
In the 68th minute Tunisia went on the offensive still further and were unbelievably unlucky when a Sengalese defender sliced a shot against the inside of his own post only to see the ball nestle in Diallo his keepers arms.
There was still time for Tunisia to miss an open goal from a header, Diallo to make two further saves both with his legs (one from Msakni who could have scored four) and for te same player to score only to have his shot ruled out for offside. Tunisia also had a penalty appeal turned away and their number 11 head over from 5 yards out.
All in all a remarkable game with Senegal happy with the three points that puts them top of Group B and leaves Tunisia at the bottom pointless.
Senegal have a good team but so do Tunisia who are still in the hunt but just found Lady Luck had gone out to the beauty parlour just when she was needed.
If Tunisia carry on like this they can still get out of the group B, this after all is the group of death in the African Cup of Nations.
Tunisia have won the tournament once, but Senegal have never lifted the crown. Their best performance came in 2002 when they lost on penalties to Cameroon.
This year could be a different story with a side containing Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, West Ham’s Kouyate and Everton’s Idrissa Gueye in midfielder, as well as Liverpool’s Sadio Mane.
”Main photo: Vlad1988 / Shutterstock, Inc.”