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Tunisia to get off to a good start, Ivory Coast to be forgiven


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Semi-finalist three years ago and present at the World Cup in 2018, Tunisia should in theory easily get out of the group stage of CAN-2022. For her first match, she faces Mali, the only real danger of group F. Eliminated from qualifying for the World Cup, Côte d’Ivoire, she hopes for her part to catch up during the African Cup and relive the great hours of his history.

With 15 consecutive participations in the African Cup, Tunisia is one of the great regulars of the competition. For her entry into the CAN-2022, she faces, Wednesday January 12, Mali, the other heavyweight of group F.

Semi-finalists three years ago and present at the World Cup in 2018, the Carthage Eagles have a record of 17 wins, four draws and five defeats under the tutelage of coach Mondher Kebaïer, appointed in 2019, who can count on a quality workforce. “Tunisia has a very united group, our strength is at group level, not on individualities, we rely not on stars, but on fundamental values, namely courage, collective spirit and solidarity. From there, everyone is called upon to put their qualities at the service of the collective”, explained the coach at a press conference on the eve of the first match.

Even if the Tunisians do not have any “stars” in their squad, the Stéphanois Wahbi Khazri is a leader in the group. An experienced player, he hopes to take his country as far as possible in this AFCON. “We want to win it. In the last edition, we were semi-finalists, beaten by Senegal. I think we were superior and we deserved to win. It would be good now to qualify for the final, but it won’t be easy because there are great teams in Africa, where the level is increasingly high,” he told AFP.

In this group F, only Mali seems able to worry Tunisia. The other Eagles also have a good squad with Hamari Traoré (Rennes) or Amadou Haïdara (Leipzig), even if the powerful Moussa Marega (Al-Hilal) and Cheick Doucouré (Lens) are missing. “The first meeting is always very important in a competition. It will be a hard-fought match against a team full of talent”, conceded Mondher Kebaïer.

Mauritania and Gambia, which is participating in its first CAN, are on the other hand the small thumbs of the group. “We faced Mauritania in the World Cup qualifiers. We were hooked at home. I don’t know Gambia at all. At the CAN, no match can be taken lightly”, however tempered Wahbi Khazri.

The Ivorians want to forget the failure of the qualification for the World Cup-2022

Since its last coronation in the competition in 2015, Côte d’Ivoire has changed its face. The legends Yaya Touré, Kolo Touré and other Copa Barry have given way to a younger workforce. From now on, Serge Aurier, Max-Alain Gradel, Franck Kessié, Wilfried Zaha, Nicolas Pépé or even Ajacide Sébastien Haller, current top scorer in the Champions League, have taken control.

But this new generation of Elephants remains on a bitter failure during the qualifying play-offs for the World Cup-2022. Eliminated by Cameroon, Patrice Beaumelle’s men cannot afford another failure.

For its entry into the competition in group E, Côte d’Ivoire will start gently against the modest team of Equatorial Guinea. Despite his favorite position, the coach does not take this match lightly. “When you are at the head of a team like Côte d’Ivoire, you have to get three points in each game,” he announced at a press conference. “I’ve played Equatorial Guinea several times and it’s always been close matches. Tomorrow’s match will be close but we’ll do everything to take the three points”.

On the side of his players, it is also time for concentration. “The group lives well. Everyone is concerned. We made a preparation that could have been better. We have quality. There are no more small nations. It is up to us to put all the ingredients for win”, summed up Maxwell Cornet (Burnley FC).

As proof, in the first match of this group, Sierra Leone managed the feat of holding Algeria, the reigning African champions, in check. Logically, however, the first two places should be played between the Elephants and the Fennecs. The clash between these two teams will be the last game of the group.

With AFP


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