‘Results in the opening rounds have shown that there is no small team in Africa’

* As 2004 AFCON champions Tunisia date COSAFA nation Namibia this evening

* This is Tunisia’s 21st participation in the AFCON, and their 16th in a row, the latter being a record in the history of the tournament

Maravi Express

Having seen how unpredictable the opening matches have been, Tunisia coach Jalel Kadri is definitely wary of facing Confederation of Southern African Football Association (COSAFA) representatives, Namibia in tomorrow’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Côte d’Ivoire 2023 match.

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On Sunday, after COSAFA side, Mozambique stunned 7-time champions, Egypt by leading 2-1 towards the end only to succumb to a late penalty, which Mohammed Salah converted to end the match 2-2, coach Kadri said the there is no small team in Africa.

He also was referring to Ghana’s shock 1-2 defeat at the hands of another COSAFA nation, Cape Verde, saying playing against Namibia was in no way an advantage as the tournament has already shown that there are no small teams in Africa.

“Namibia is a serious opponent, and we don’t have any easy team,” he told CAFonline. “The results in the opening rounds have shown that there is no small team in Africa as we saw, so we need to show them respect and play to our best ability. The opening matches have shown that.”

Tunisia coach Jalel Kadri

Tunisia are making their 21st appearance in the competition, with this edition being the 16th in a row — a record in the history of the tournament thus far.

An unfavorable statistic that the coach will have to discard from his mind is the fact that Tunisia have failed to win any of their last four opening matches of the AFCON.

This will be the first encounter between Tunisia and Namibia at the AFCON as they last faced each other in November 2007, in a friendly that the Carthage Eagles won 2-0 at home. 

This is Tunisia’s 21st participation in the AFCON, and their 16th in a row, the latter being a record in the history of the tournament and their only AFCON title dates back to 2004, as hosts — since then, they’ve progressed past the quarter-finals only once, in 2019, losing in the third-place match.

Tunisia have failed to win any of their last four opening matches at the AFCON (D2 L2). The last time they were victorious in their first game at an edition of the tournament was in 2013 against Algeria (1-0).

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None of Tunisia’s last eight matches at the AFCON has ended in a draw (W3 L5) – their last stalemate was against Ghana in the round of 16 in the 2019 edition.

Tunisia conceded only one goal in six games in qualification for this year’s CAF Africa Cup of Nations, fewer than any other team. 

This is Namibia’s 4th appearance at the AFCON — their first since 2019. They have finished bottom of their group in each of their three previous participations.

Namibia have lost seven of their nine matches at the AFCON (D2). Coming into this year’s tournament, only Benin (14) and Mozambique (12) have played more AFCON games than Namibia (9) without ever winning one.

Namibia have conceded 2.7 goals per game at the AFCON (24 in 9 games) — that’s more than any other team to have taken part in more than one edition of the tournament.

Youssef Msakni

Tunisia’s Youssef Msakni will attempt to score in a record equaling sixth CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournament — currently held by four players including André Ayew.

He found the net on average every 22 minutes during the group stage of the qualifiers for this year’s tournament (5 goals in 110 minutes), the best ratio of any player with 2+ goals.

Peter Shalulile scored four of Namibia’s six goals in the group stage of the qualifiers and he was the only player alongside Victor Osimhen and Patson Daka to score in four different matches.

Peter Shalulile

On his tournament objectives, Kadri was very modest in his response, saying that the team had prepared enough to go as far as possible in the competition.

“We will try to go as far as possible. We have teams that are good quality so we will try to win each match and go as far as possible. We must be respectful to all opponents.

“There are Africa’s best teams that are present so ours is to do our best in every match and take it game by game,” said the coach.

Meanwhile, Angola coach, Pedro Gonçalves was satisfied with the performance of his team after they came back from a goal down to get a point against Algeria.

Pedro Gonçalves

Speaking to CAFonline after the game, Pedro Gonçalves credited the efforts of his team in the second half after starting the first half slowly: “This team started slowly but we managed to find some spaces and came back into the game in the second half which the team did better.”

Gonçalves added that he was impressed with his side’s mentality and will expecting more in the remaining games, whose next is against Mauritania on Saturday, January 20.

“The work isn’t done. The team showed that mentally they are up there so we will continue to build on this in our next matches.”—Info from CAFonline

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