A ticket for the Round of 16 is at stake for both Gambia and Tunisia when the lock horns for their 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final group stage game. The meeting is on this Thursday night at Limbe stadium with a kick-off at 19:00 GMT.
Gambia Scorpions have four points, joint top with Mali. Tunisia stand third with three points while Mauritania trail the group pointless.
This will be the first ever Africa Cup of Nations encounter between Gambia and Tunisia.
Gambia are unbeaten in their first two games at the AFCON. And they could become the third team to avoid defeat in the group stage of their debut appearance in the competition since the turn of the century.
With four points from a 1-0 over Mauritania and a late 1-1 draw with Mali, the Scorpions look on the verge of the next round. A point against Tunisia would guarantee that, while even a defeat could see them waiting a place among the best four sides in third place. But Tom Saintfiet side would not like to take the risk.
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“We must make sure of our qualification. We will play to get a positive result. Tunisia may miss some players because of COVID but remains a great football nation with many talented players. We are here to represent our country. And we will do everything to honor it. For each match, we look at the best strategy to have a good result. We have talented players who can adapt to the system. This is our strength.” Said Gambian coach, Tom Saintfiet ahead of the meeting.
Tunisia are unbeaten in their last four Africa Cup of Nations games against debutants since losing to South Africa in the final in 1996 (2-0). The Carthage Eagles missed more penalties (4) than any other team at the Africa Cup of Nations since 2010.
Wahbi Khazri has been directly involved in six of Tunisia’s last 11 goals (55%) at the Africa Cup of Nations, scoring four and registering two assists. Indeed, no player has been involved in more AFCON goals for the Eagles of Carthage than Khazri (6), since his debut in the competition in 2013.
After a shocking 1-0 defeat to Mali, Tunisia restored their hope with an astounding 4-0 win over Mauritania. Now it’s time to complete the revival mission with a place in the next round.
Struck by a number of absent players, coach Mondher Kebaier knows well he could not underestimate the team from Gambia that proved themselves as one of the Black Horses of this AFCON. The Carthage Eagles need to give their all to secure passage to the Round of 16.
“After the defeat against Mali, our team had the right attitude to react. We got results and produced some good football. It would not be easy against Gambia.
We have 12 players absent due to COVID; things are getting complicated. My role is to find solutions in these difficult situations. I have confidence in the group. And we will do everything to win the match. We want a reassuring and collective result. We are going to play to build on our strengths, regardless of the opponent.” Said Mondher Kebaier in pre-match press conference.