24 January 2017

Tunisia/Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe's Fight Back Not Good Enough for Victory

Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Sliti Naim de la Tunisie célébrant un but

Tunisia have potentially moved from rank outsiders to among the tournament favourites at the African Nations Cup after they concluded a strong showing in Group B with a 4-2 victory over Zimbabwe in Libreville on Monday.

The North African side take second spot in the pool and will now fancy their chances against the winners of Group A, Burkina Faso, in their quarterfinal to be played in Libreville on Saturday.

Four goals came in a rampant first half as Naim Sliti, Youssef Msakni, Yassine Khenessi and Wahbi Khazri, with a penalty, put Zimbabwe to the sword.

Zimbabwe needed a win to advance but were behind after 10 minutes as Tunisia came out with a lightening attack and although Knowledge Musona and Tendai Ndoro found the net they departed the tournament with a single point.

"We came to play without speculating, without calculating," Tunisia coach Henryk Kasperczak said. "We went out to win, we did not want to control and have a draw.

"I think Zimbabwe were surprised by the way we were playing - kind of aggressive with our presence. Fortunately we had efficiency that caused us to score goals. I do not think we have to change the strategy in order to go further in the competition.

"As we have seen until today, the matches are played on details. Fortunately in the first half we made a difference and in the second half our players were able to control the game.

"Burkina Faso and Tunisia deserve their qualification for the next stage and we hope to be able to make it to the semis."

The question is where now for Zimbabwe, with many pundits suggesting coach Kalisto Pasuwa has led a very talented squad that has under-performed.

But they were always going to be up against it defensively with a lack of international experience in that department and in their end their impressive attack was unable to paper over those cracks.

"We lost the match in the early stages due to a lack of concentration," Pasuwa said. "I think we have potential, but must prepare better. A lesson from this tournament is that the players have to remain focused throughout games.

"I thought also they reacted to the officiating and frustration crippled in their heads and they were doing unnecessary tackles that ended up costing us at the end of the day."

It is the least successful Nations Cup finals for Zimbabwe, who at least managed wins in their previous two visits to the continental showpiece in 2004 and 2006.

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