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AFCON Day 10: Tunisia and DR Congo reach quarterfinals
DR Congo XI: Kidiaba, Mpeko, Kimwaki, Mongongu, Kasusula, Mbemba, Makiadi, Mubele, Mabwati, Bolasie, Mbokani
Tunisia XI: Mathlouthi, Maaloul, Abdenour, Yakoubi, Ben Youssef, Hamza Mathlouthi, Ragued, Sassi, Chikhaoui, Khazri, Akaichi
Despite low attendance in Bata, the two sides played out an entertaining one-all draw to book tickets for the quarter finals, with Bokila cancelling out Akaichi’s opener.
Tunisia started out the more ambitious and showed decent exchanges as they repeatedly ripped open the DRC defense. Leekens had returned to the qualifiers’ 3-5-2 system and Akaichi showed he was capable of playing Fakhredine’s (injured) role of moving between the channels. They created chances; most memorably missing successive goal mouth chance sin the opening exchanges. Akaichi worked the ball inside from the right but Sassi could only direct his placement shot at a DRC defender; in the follow-up, skipper chikhaoui sent the ball out with the goal at his mercy.
Tunisia continued dominating but were still found wanting in terms of finishing; this time Chikhaoui’s effort after cutting inside being deflected off course by Kidiaba. Soon after, Chikhaoui maneuvered his way into the area and Akaichi jumped onto his cross to give Tunisia the lead. They went into half-time being on the front foot; possessing the ball well and denying DRC a sniff at the Tunisian goal.
DRC, who had been surprisingly timid for a team fighting for their lives, came out of the locker room with zest. They gained control of the game as Tunisia scuffled back to protect their narrow lead. This reduced the effectiveness of their transitional plays and now relied on individual plays rather than player exchanges to create goal-scoring opportunities. DRC kept up the presssure and eventually their reward courtesy of substitute Bokila. A, seemingly, harmless ball was hufffed forward and Mbokani nodded onto the path of Bokila, who wriggle past the Tunisian defense to beat Mathlouthi from close range.
As if keeping tabs on the other game, the two sides matched each other out till full-time to ensure qualification for both.
Cape Verde- Vozinha, Varela, Gege, Stopira, Carlitos, Varela, Calu, Rocha, Rodrigues, Mendes, Heldon
Zambia- Mweene, Nkausu, Mbola, Munthali, Sunzu, Mtonga, Musonda, Lungu, Singuluma, Kangwa, Kalaba
Cape Verde and Zambia played out an insipid 0-0 draw in a rain-drenched encounter to crash out of the AFCON 2015.
Cape Verde headed into the game in pole position to qualify as they took on, bottom of the group, Zambia but looked increasingly in trouble in the first half; especially early on as Zambia created more dangerous chances. Singuluma’s long range shot was parried by Vozinha onto the path of Kangwa but he saw his weak effort cleared off the line. Zambia were at it again and this time Kalaba could not match his finishing with his dribbling as he sent his effort wide of goal after getting into the Cape Verde box from the left. Largely spectators, Cape Verde’s dangerous moments came off set pieces. First, Varela couldn’t contort his posture enough to get comfortably at, what was, a freeheader from a freekick and he headed over the post; the Islanders then saw a cheeky low freekick roll past everyone in the box and go narrowly off target.
The rain continued pounding Ebibeyin and the game’s quality couldn’t match the atmosphere from the stands. Thus second half failed to offer much in-terms of offensive prowess to seal the fate of the neutrals’ favourite underdogs.