Rustenburg — A last minute goal by striker Youssef Msakni gave Tunisia a 1-0 win over Algeria in their 2013 CAN Group D opener Tuesday (January 22nd) in Rustenburg, South Africa.
"You have to be really patient in a match like that as they are often decided at the last minute," BBC quoted Tunisia coach Sami Trabelsi as saying. "Bravo to Algeria also - they played a good match. Sometimes there is no logic in football and a match can change any time, but we always believed we could win," he added.
"The result was an enormous disappointment for my players - we deserved to get something out of the game. I can't criticise any of my players tonight and the goal came at the end. It's cruel, but that's football," Algeria coach Vahid Halilhodzic said. "My team largely dominated, but I told them Msakni could cause trouble with his right foot and we were a little naive at the moment that decided the game."
Tunisia are now second in Group D behind Cote d'Ivoire, 2-1 winners over Togo earlier.
The match attracted a number of supporters of both teams. There were over 1,500 Algerian fans, around 100 Tunisians, and a number of other African fans.
Algerians sat next to Tunisians and exchanged greetings and appreciation, reflecting the deep historical relations between the two countries.
"The Algerians and Tunisians are brothers, and football won't divide them," Tunisian supporter Bachir, alias Le Dragon, said.
During the game, fans Bachir and his friend Reda, aka L'Éléphant, chanted the famous Algerian cheers "One, Two, Three, Viva L'Algerie", adding "Viva Tunisie!"
The match was fiercely competitive between the two teams, but without any side posing a major danger to the other. Both coaches adopted a cautious plan to avoid a loss.
Tunisia striker Issam Djemaa was injured in a strong tackle by Algeria's Essaïd Belkalem and was replaced by Hemdi Elharbaoui in the first half.
Algeria's Islam Slimani was about to score, but his attempt hit the crossbar. Djamel Mesbah also sent a strong shot towards the Tunisian goal, but his ball missed the post.
The Algerians missed many opportunities in the second half.
The Tunisians had an opportunity to score in the 75th minute, but Hamdi Harbaoui passed it up.
Then at the final minute of the match, Tunisian star Msakni scored a stunning goal for the Carthage Eagles.
The match ended amid the absolute rapture of the Tunisian team and fans, The Algerians and their fans greeted the Tunisians on their victory despite their disappointment.
Slimani appeared to be very affected by the loss. "We promise Algerians to make it up in the next match," he said.
"I greet our players for their courage and worth," said Trabelsi. "Our victory is a deserved one, and we give it to the Tunisian people."