26 January 2012
Tunisia can all but seal their place in the quarter-finals of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations with a victory over Niger in their second Group C clash at the Stade d’Angondjé in Libreville on Friday.
The Carthage Eagles will secure their place in the knockout stages with a win over the west Africans, coupled then with a failure by Morocco to defeat co-hosts Gabon in the later game.
But even if both Tunisia and Morocco end up successful, the former will still have their destiny in their own hands, needing just a single point from their final encounter against the Gabonese next Monday.
Niger looked well off the pace in their opener against Gabon, losing 2-0 and offering up many more chances. Against a more clinical side they would have suffered a much greater loss, while up front they looked fairly toothless as well.
Tunisia’s players have spoken of how they are expecting a physical encounter on Friday. Confidence in the squad is high after their superb 2-1 victory over regional rivals Morocco first time out.
“We don’t have much of an idea of what they’re like, we’ve been preparing for them by watching videos of them … but the win against Morocco has given us confidence,” striker Zouhaier Dhaouadi said.
Niger coach Harouna Doula claims his side have analysed their shortcomings against Gabon and will not make the same mistakes against Tunisia.
“We know we could have done better on Monday against Gabon. Now we are going in search of Niger’s first ever Nations Cup points,” he told AFP.
“We were disappointed in our performance in our first match, but there were a lot of reasons, the pressure of playing our first Cup game, the pressure of playing the co-hosts. We are hoping for better on Friday.
“We became a little destabilised against Gabon. Are there any positives we can take from that game? Well I think we played as well as we could, even though we’ve done better in the past.”
Niger suffered a blow when they lost teenage prodigy Moutari Amadou to a broken leg sustained against Gabon. He has already left the country to start his rehabilitation in France.
AllAfrica – All the Time