Tunisia secure Afcon 2023 place

Tunisia became the latest country to confirm their place in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) after a 1-0 victory over Libya in Benghazi on Tuesday night.

The victory moved them to 10 points top of Group J, one ahead of second-placed Equatorial Guinea and seven ahead of the Libyans with two rounds of matches left.

Tunisia achieved their qualification on an unbeaten record and without conceding a goal, a statistic that excited head coach Jalel Kadri.

“We secured qualification to the African Cup of Nations, and Tunisia is the only team in the qualifiers that did not concede any goal so far. Accordingly, it confirmed the technical value of our defence, and great work awaits us in the attack to score,” the tactician said.

He was also delighted with the performance of his side against a tough Libya side at their backyard in Benghazi.

“We achieved a difficult victory, in a difficult stadium and against a difficult opponent. We did not let the opponent take the initiative and we controlled the course of the match. I thank the players and their experience decided the outcome of the match,” the tactician added.

While Tunisia have earned a place in the final tournament, Libya will have an outside chance to qualify, but that is dependent on whether Equatorial Guinea will lose both their matches in June.

Assistant coach, Idriss Murabit, said his side can take pride in the performance against Tunisia moving forward.

“We did not deserve defeat against Tunisia, and our players did what they had to do and they are affected by the loss. There was a clear improvement in the match, but luck was not on our side, especially since we created chances to score,” he said.

Haythem Jouini scored the lone goal for Tunisia in the 16th minute, powering home a header from Ali Maaloul’s corner.

Libya had chances to score, but they were not calm and relaxed infront of goal, seeing many chances go begging.

Their keeper Muad Allafi made two good saves in the dying minutes of the match to deny substitute Seifeddine Jaziri.

Mauritania 1-1 DR Congo

Elsewhere in Nouakchott, 10-man DR Congo held on for a point away from home as they played to a 1-1 draw with hosts Mauritania.

The result leaves Group I wide open with only three points separating leaders Gabon (7) and bottom side Congo (4) with two rounds of matches left.

Mauritania are third in the group with five points and there will be all to play for heading to the final cluster of fixtures in June.

“We lacked accuracy in the first half but the difficulty of this match will help us grow. We will do everything to win the two matches in June to qualify,” said Mauritania captain Aly Abeid after the match.

Meanwhile, DR Congo head coach Sebastian Desabre was left ruing missed chsnces.

“We should have scored more goals in the first 30 minutes given the chances we created. We faced a very brave Mauritanian side that did not stop pushing. This is now over and we focus on the next assignments. The match against Gabon will be very decisive and our target is to get to 10 points, and this is by winning both remaining games,” said the Frenchman.

Cedric Bakambu had turned from hero to villain for the Congolese, scoring the opener in the first half but sent off for a second bookable offence in the second half.

Bakambu broke the deadlock in the ninth minute when he ran on to the near post to connect to a cross from Theo Bongonda.

Mauritania had chances to restore parity and the closest was a freekick from skipper Abeid which was well saved by the Congolese keeper.

Bakambu had a chance late on in the first half to double the lead for Les Leopards but his shot after rounding the keeper was blocked on the line.

In the second half, the hosts, pushed on by their fans rallied to get back into the game and they did so in spectacular fashion in the 57th minute when Mouhamed Soueid struck a scorcher from distance.

A minute later they were handed a numerical advantage when Bakambu was sent off, but they couldn’t crack a resolute defense by the visitors.

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