, , ,

DRC v Tun

So to the other two teams in Group B, DR Congo at kick-off needing at least a point to have a chance of qualifying but knowing a win would guarantee them knockout football. Meanwhile the Tunisians came into the game knowing a single point would see them through regardless of other results. So more tense times for the players and supporters in the Estadio de Bata, once again everything to play for with the reward of a Quarter-Final berth on the line.

Tunisia, coming into the game as favourites certainly looked the stronger side in the first half. Limiting the Congolese to possession in their own half, looking strong out wide with the attacking wide players Yassine Chikhaoui and Wahbi Khazri looking dangerous, but it was Ferjani Sassi who should have opened the scoring on the ten minute mark. Ahmed Akaichi breezed through the DR Congo defence, rounding the keeper Kidiaba before the ball broke to Sassi who could only weakly side-foot an effort that was cleared off the line. The next guilty party was Chikhaoui who perhaps should have done better with a short range effort that he put wide, albeit under pressure from defender Issama Mpeko. Chikhaoui was again denied on the twenty minute mark, his ferocious shot brilliantly tipped around the post by the impressive Robert Kidiaba, goal-keeper, captain and larger than life character of the DR Congo Leopards. At the other end TP Mazembe’s Jean Kasusula forced an impressive save from Tunisian goal-keeper Aymen Mathlouthi via a free-kick, signifying the Leopards still had a part to play in deciding who would go on to the last eight. But the pressure was to pay off for the Carthage Eagles, finally going one up when Akaichi nodded home a deflected effort by Chikhaoui, no less than they deserved in a half where the duo had ran the Congolese defence ragged.

The second half continued in the same vein, DR Congo on the back foot, staring elimination from the competition in the face. But the front pairing of captain Chikhaoui and Akaichi was proving to be too strong for them, and other teams with hopes of success in Equatorial Guinea will need to take heed of the impressive Tunisian strike force. But completely against the run of play, the scores were levelled after 65 minutes, Jeremy Bokila rifling home after a fine nod down from Dieumerci Mbokani, a goal of huge importance as it now meant DR Congo would be heading into the Quarter-Finals if the other game in the group remained at nil nil. And that is exactly how things remained, thanks to some more brilliance in the DR Congolese goal from Kidiaba and Tunisia seeming to take their foot off the gas, happy to see out a draw. The draw meant a record-breaking run of six draws for DR Congo, ending the group stage on the same points as Cape Verde but proceeding due to having scored a single goal more. Tunisia will now face hosts Equatorial Guinea whilst a derby of sorts between DR Congo and Congo promises to be the stand out fixture of the Quarter-Finals