Group D: Tunisia vs Gabon

19 Jan

Group D was the last but certainly not least to catch up in the stakes for upset of the tournament. Last week saw rank outsiders Gabon defeat former champions and World Cup contenders Cameroon by the slightest of margins. The Azingo Nationale took to Lubago again with the hopes of retaining pole position by quelling Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles.

The match got off to a cracking start with Gabon looking to qualify as early as possible. A win here would secure passage and Gabon signalled their intent from the outset. Mouloungu twice and Ragued, both applied pressure early on when they found themselves unmarked in the box but sent headers wide. Hull‘s Cousin was proving to be quite the threat when he drifted out wide, taking defenders with him and leaving space in the middle.

But the Carthage Eagles almost drew first blood against the run of  play. Manga under-hit a back pass and Chermiti was on to it in a flash. Gabon’s keeper Ovono went down too early and Chermiti simply went round him. To Manga’s relief, Chermiti scuffed his shot at an almost unguarded net. The defence were recovering and between them eventually cleared their line at the second time of asking.

A free kick from range almost gave Gabon a shock lead when Tunisia’s Mathlouthi dropped a routine catch. Inspired by this lack of confidence, the Azingo National started a seige of long range efforts to test his nerve. It almost paid off, with Mathlouthi rattled, the attack were inching closer as they continually threatened to latch onto a rebound. Mind you, Ovono was almost guilty of handing Tunisia the lead when he produced a near howler after spilling a well-driven Mikari free kick. At the other end, Cousin had tucked in off the wing and was enjoying a physical battle with Tunisia’s Haggui. Only time would tell if Cousin could profit.

The first half fizzled to a close and the second carried on in the same vein. The only real opportunities coming from free kicks and corners. Both of the keepers looked shaky and either atoned as the match progressed or thanked their respective defenders for hoofing it away. Gabon eventually seemed to tire and begun focusing on not conceding, playing evermore cautiously. The same tactic they employed against Cameroon that very nearly saw them undone. But the Tunisians seemed equally cagey coming forward as if to say,

“I see what you’re doing, I’m not falling for that one!”

Then the controversy. On a break, Jomaa raced into the area, tried desperately to draw contact, then flung his body to the ground! The Gabonese wanted him booked and I totally agreed. It’s the kind of behaviour that refs are told to clamp down on and yet nothing! Read your rule book ref, he tried to deceive you, show him a yellow. I’m not a fan of players trying to get other players booked or telling the ref how to do his job, but come on! The Gabonese raised a pretty convincing argument, way more convincing than the dive!

With temperatures raised and blood boiling, we finally saw action. Dhaouadhi reacted well to a quick throw in and got in behind the defence, only to hesitate and run the ball out of play. Cousin played an inch perfect ball to his strike partner, Aubameyang, one-on-one with the keeper and he should have lashed it home. His first touch let him down and he pretty much passed it to Mathlouthi. Cousin had a chance himself but his header went just wide. Tunisia passed the ball brilliantly and created a chance for the swimmer… I mean Jomaa, but he missed the ball completely. He almost stole the show when he smashed the ball off the bar with 10 minutes on the clock (he was ruled offside).

A close contest that could have been won by either side. I was a bit disappointed that Gabon let Tunisia off in the second half, but on balance it would probably have been harsh had they won as Tunisia did their job defensively.

Final Score: Tunisia 0 – 0 Gabon

Man of the Match: For me Cousin. Gabon’s star player did not disappoint and lead by example.

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  1. Group D: Tunisia vs Gabon « Out of Africa | Breakings New - January 19, 2010

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