Tunisia start their campaign to regain the Africa Cup of Nations title versus Cape Verde with coach Georges Leekens conceding that his side’s preparations have been disrupted by difficulties with accommodation.
The north Africans won the AFCON for the first time back in 2004 and are among the favourites to lift the trophy for a second time in Equatorial Guinea.
Leekens’ team will be expected to triumph against a Cape Verde team making only their second appearance at the competition.
However, the Belgian has been left fuming by problems at the team hotel, which has suffered a powercut and had plumbing problems, ahead of Sunday’s meeting in Ebebiyin.
“I am very concerned because the challenges we face have nothing to do with the true preparing our team for this cup,” Leekens said.
“For two or three weeks, we are well prepared for the tournament and we really handled things.
“Today [Friday] CAN [the Confederation of African Football] has asked us to train at two o’clock in the afternoon, under a blazing sun and we have agreed to do so, without complaining.
“With that, there is no problem. We try as we can to focus on our work, but let’s face it, the circumstances are not favourable.”
Cape Verde surprised many by reaching the quarter-finals in 2013 before succumbing to Ghana.
After being drawn alongside Tunisia and two other former winners in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo in Group B, expectations are low for the islanders.
Coach Rui Aguas’ men may have extra motivation to try to prove their superiority over Tunisia having been thrown out of World Cup qualifying for fielding an ineligible player in the last meeting between the two back in September 2013.
And, following an AFCON qualification campaign in which they finished top of Group F ahead of Zambia, Aguas has his sights set on another run to the knock-out stages of the tournament.
“The other three teams are stronger and more experienced, but [to] try to do our best and shine, [and] pass the group stage must always be a goal,” Aguas said.
“Zambia is very difficult, was champion a few years ago, Tunisia is perhaps the strongest physical and defensively, and all are evolved technically.
“We went in on an equal footing with the other teams. We are a competitor that has to be valued after the qualification campaign we had.”
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