Soccer News of Sunday, 18 January 2015
Tunisia had to settle for a point in their Africa Cup of Nations opener after Cape Verde deservedly came from behind to draw in Group B.
Cape Verde defender Fernando Varela headed against the post early on.
Kuca’s shot was then cleared off the line by Tunisia’s Syam Ben Youssef before Yassine Chikhaoui headed against the bar for the North Africans.
Mohamed Ali Moncer slid in the opener but Heldon levelled from the penalty spot for the Islanders.
The draw – a third 1-1 in four matches so far – sees all four teams level in group B after Crystal Palace’s Yannick Bolasie earned DR Congo a draw against Zambia earlier in the day.
Tunisia, making their 12th consecutive appearance at the Cup of Nations, lost key forwards Saber Khalifa and Fakhreddine Ben Youssef to injury before the tournament started. The withdrawals contributed to a difficult week which also saw them endure problems with their accommodation in Equatorial Guinea, and they struggled to create much in a scrappy first half.
Rui Aguas, the Portuguese coach of Cape Verde, said the Blue Sharks are determined to match their run to the quarter-finals in South Africa two years ago – on their Afcon debut – and they were the brighter of the two sides in a half of few chances.
Fernando Varela headed against the post in the opening minutes and his side were certain they should have been awarded a penalty when striker Heldon was tripped by Ali Maaloul, but a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area was awarded.
Played at the 5,000 capacity Ebebeyin Stadium – a new ground carved out of the dense jungle in the far north-eastern corner of Equatorial Guinea – Cape Verde continued to have the better chances after the break, with Kuca’s effort off the line by Ben Youssef.
Buoyed by that let off, Tunisia finally started to push as Chikhaoui headed against the bar, but the referee then blew his whistle for a push as the loose ball was bundled into the net.
The pressure told though as Moncer slotted Ali Maaloul’s low cross into the top corner at the far post.
But, just seven minutes later, Sporting Lisbon’s Heldon levelled from the spot after being felled by Ben Youssef.