Senegal/Tunisia: Senegal Needs to Sort Out Panicked Defence

Senegal fan.
16 January 2017

On the face of it Senegal's 2-0 victory over Tunisia in their opening Group B match of the 2017 African Nations Cup finals looked routine, but the fancied west Africans were forced to hang on as their opponents missed a number of excellent chances.

The Senegalese are many people's pre-tournament favourites having had an excellent 2016 to top the CAF list on the FIFA World Rankings.  The West Africans are packed with star quality with players from the elite leagues in Europe, but looked at times disorganised and panicked in defence.

They eased into a 2-0 lead inside half-an-hour thanks to a Sadio Mane penalty and a header from Kara Mbodji, but then had to withstand an onslaught from the Tunisians in the second half.

Ahmed Akaichi and Youssef Msakni were the chief culprits in front of goal for the Carthage Eagles, while the latter was also denied by a world-class save from Senegalese keeper Abdoulaye Diallo towards the end.

Certainly if they are to lift a first Nations Cup title, Senegal will need to improve the way they defend against teams.

"It was a pretty good first half, the second was much more difficult,” Senegal coach Aliou Cisse admitted. “Tunisia, technically, we knew are a very good team. But the boys held out, even though it was tough.

“The result is there, we are happy. It is important to win the first game in an international competition and we did. The purpose of football is not just to dominate, but to win. Tunisia dominated us at times but we also had moments that were very good.

“The end result is that the Senegal won 2-0 and that is what is important in football."

Tunisia coach Henryk Kasperczak rued his side's tentative start and felt for the most part they kept Senegal at bay well, bar from set-pieces.

"We can have a lot of regrets after the game with the many opportunities we had, especially in the second half,” he said. “To do well, you must score goals. The Senegalese were more likely to score from a set-piece [than open play].”

Tunisia next face what should be a mouthwatering North African derby against Algeria on Thursday, a match that both will feel they need to win.

Another defeat for Tunisia and they would likely be out of the tournament with a game still to play.

Senegal will need to be better defensively against a strong Zimbabwe attack in their next outing on the same day.

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