Desperate Tunisia in search for a result against spirited South Africa

* Bafana Bafana bounced back from their 0-2 loss to Mali in style with their high scoring match over Namibia on Sunday

* While Tunisia, who suffered a 0-1 shock defeat to Namibia in their opening game, played out to a 1-1 draw against Mali

Maravi Express

Following their 4-0 drubbing of Namibia, South Africa are preparing for an even tougher outing when they face a Tunisian side that is desperate for their first Group E victory in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations Côte d’Ivoire 2023 as the teams prepare to face each other tonight.


The South Africans bounced back from their 0-2 loss to Mali in style with their high scoring match over fellow Confederation of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) representatives, Namibia on Sunday, while Tunisia on the other hand, who suffered a 0-1 shock defeat to Namibia in their opening game, played out to a 1-1 draw against Mali.

Both sides will be aiming for nothing less than a victory with Tunisia standing an outside chance of qualification with a point to their name, while Bafana Bafana are second behind leaders, Mali. 

In an interview with CAFonline, South Africa coach Hugo Broos their opponents have a slight advantage since they have had a day more to prepare: “However, after Sunday’s big victory, we have a boost of energy — the team is ready.

Hugo Broos

“We know Tunisia is a great team. I think they underestimated Namibia, the match against Mali is what we will analyze. We will fight every second for a good result.

“It will be a very heated game. They are under pressure but the same applies to us because if we lose, it will be a tricky situation.” 

His player, Grant Kekana said: “Everyone is confident and looking forward to tomorrow. We don’t want to go home early — we will try our best to get a good result. 

“We are fortunate enough at Sundown to experience different conditions of Africa — sometimes the hostility as well. It has played a big role in how we approach this AFCON.

“The level is very high and all teams want to win and we are grateful that we have played Champions League which has helped us in this tournament.”

Jalel Khadri

Tunisia coach Jalel Kadri knows what is expected of them back home and described their group as difficult: “We have to start with high concentration in the match. We have several players with experience, but we still need to work hard to get the victory. 

“South Africa has a team of players who have experience on the continent from Mamelodi Sundowns. Tunisia needs to use its strength. SA is good offensively and we should be ready for that. 

His player Seifeddine Jaziri also confessed that it will not be an easy ride: “The team performs better when they are in difficult situations. We will take up our responsibility and play well in order to make Tunisians happy. 

“We know South Africa has good players and have a player in Egypt but we have a chance to win as well and must take all the created chances.”


As underwhelming as Tunisia’s record at the AFCON was before this tournament began, they were firm favourites to top Group E and few would’ve predicted them being bottom heading into Matchday 3.

That’s the reality, though; they must beat South Africa on Wednesday to have any chance of reaching the knockout stage. Even though pre-tournament expectations for Tunisia weren’t especially high, they have been disappointing — a 1-1 draw with Mali on Matchday 2 was hardly emphatic but at least prevented an additional loss of dignity after they were beaten 1-0 in their opener by Namibia, among the least-fancied teams in the whole competition.

Either way, the fact the Carthage Eagles were unable to beat Mali last time out leaves them in a precarious position. With one point from two games and third-placed Namibia on three, a draw simply won’t be enough for Tunisia to claw themselves off the foot of Group E.

Anything other than a win and they’ll be heading home early. They could certainly have picked more straightforward opposition for such a vital match, though Bafana Bafana’s own record at the AFCON in recent tournaments is by no means impressive.

South Africa haven’t won successive games at the AFCON since 2000, so it’s fair to suggest Tunisia aren’t completely devoid of hope. On Matchday 2, Hugo Broos’ men did what Tunisia couldn’t when confidently sweeping aside Namibia.

An early Percy Tau penalty was followed by a Themba Zwane brace to put South Africa in complete control by half-time. The exciting Thapelo Maseko then rounded things off in the second half with his first goal for the senior side.

That put South Africa in a far more comfortable position, though they too cannot afford to relax. While three points could be enough to qualify as one of the four best third-placed teams, they could yet finish bottom of the group if they lose and Namibia earn a point against Mali in the group’s other game.

It’s all still to play for, and that might just lead to a thrilling finale in Group E tonight as the two are well acquainted with each other as this will be their fifth meeting at the AFCON — with Bafana Bafana prevailing in both of their knockout encounters — the 1996 final (2-0) and third-place match in 2000 (2-2 aet, 4-3 pens).

Meanwhile, Tunisia were victorious in their two group matches: 2006 (2-0) and 2008 (3-1). In fact, ahead of this match, South Africa have only faced Morocco five times in the AFCON.

Pre-match facts

* Although Tunisia have disappointed in this tournament, the Opta supercomputer makes them favourites for this game after winning 47.8% of the pre-match simulations. 

* South Africa are looking to win consecutive AFCON matches for the first time since they won their opening two games in 2000.

* Tunisia sit bottom of Group E with just one point, needing a victory to give themselves any chance of progressing to the knockout stage for a fifth successive AFCON tournament, last failing to progress from their group in 2013.

* South Africa are looking to reach the knockout stage in consecutive AFCON appearances (lost 2-1 to Nigeria in the 2019 quarter-finals) after progressing from their group just once in five tournaments between 2004 and 2015 (eliminated on penalties in the 2013 quarter-finals against Mali).

* Tunisia have won just one of their last eight group games at the Africa Cup of Nations (D4 L3), beating Mauritania 4-0 in AFCON 2021.

* Across the first two matchdays at AFCON 2023, only Zambia (14), Mozambique (14) and Tanzania (8) attempted fewer shots than Tunisia (15), with Youssef Msakni directly involved in 67% of them (six shots, four chances created).

* In their last five group games at the AFCON (since 2019), South Africa have had 45 shots and scored five goals, with 64% of their attempts and all five goals coming against Namibia (12 shots, four goals on MD 2 this year and 17 shots, one goal in 2019), while they’ve had 16 shots and scored no goals in the other three games in this period.

* South Africa have scored with 16.7% of their shots at AFCON 2023 (4/24), their best shot conversion rate in an edition on record (since 2010) and far more efficient than their 7.5% ratio in their last appearance in 2019 (3/40).—Info from CAFonline & Opta Analyst