30 January 2013

Togo Hold On to a Draw and a Quarter Final Place

Togo put on a resolute performance to earn a 1-1 draw against Tunisia and assure themselves of a quarter final match against Burkina Faso on Sunday 3rdFebruary at Mbombela stadium. The Sparrow Hawks one half of the entertaining and incident filled AFCON 2013 group D contest that was nail-biting to the very end. After two first half goals both sides played our a nervy second littered with misses , penalty appeals and anxious defending but it was Togo who held on to a draw that saw them pip Tunisia to a last eight place on a better goal difference.

Togo bossed the match in the early minutes but the half ended with The Carthage Eagles in ascendancy. Togo went close with the first real chance when Serge Gakpe's cross found Floyd Ayite but his effort was cut out by Tunisian defence just in time. The Sparrow Hawks of Togo took the lead when Emmanuel Adebayor played a through ball to Sergy Gakpe who in turn fired home past diving Ben Cherifia Moez in goal for Tunisia with 13 minutes on the clock.

Tunisia got themselves back on level terms on 30 minutes courtesy of a penalty dispatched expertly by Khled Mouelhi. Wahbi Khazri went down under a challenge from Dare Nibombe and Mouelhi let goalkeeper Kossi Agassa make the first move before he side-footed calmly into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.

Togo had chances to increase the score line but the woodwork denied an Adebayor header on 69thminute. Ousama Darragi then headed wide from a corner kick after the Togolese defence failed to deal with Msakni delivery. Emmanuel Adebayor had converted rather than shooting wide from inside the box.

Tunisia blew a chance to take the lead when Khaled Mouelhi's spot kick came off the upright in 78thminute. The hotly disputed penalty that saw three Togolese players including captain Adebayor caution for protesting the decision given after Dare Nibombe conceded his second penalty by bringing down Saber Khalifa.

A few minutes before Tunisia got the penalty Togo felt they should have had one when Adebayor ended up on the turn after he had rounded keeper Ben Cherifia Moez. If it was a penalty, it was a red card. It should have been both but it's neither.

Tunisia pushed for the second goal fully aware a draw suited Togo and in such pursuit the game opened up with counter attacks the order of play. Msakni dribbled past a couple of defenders but was brought down and from the resultant free- kick Khrrzi forced a fine save from Kossi Agassa. It was goal mouth action from box to another as the two sides slugged it out. After surviving the missed penalty Togo found new reserves of energy and almost snatched the winner but Adebayor, Romao and Gakpe could not put away chances in front of goal. In the end the 1-1 draw saw Togo home and they will now meet fellow West Africans, Burkina Faso on Sunday at the same venue.

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