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After an incredible first match cut short before the end of regulation time by the referee and a defeat against Mali (0-1), the Tunisians will have to come to their senses to finally win a victory on Sunday against Mauritania. The Malian Eagles can for their part obtain their ticket for the 8th in case of success on Gambia.
The images of the Tunisians furious after the Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe, who whistled too early the end of the match against Mali lost (0-1) by the Eagles of Carthage, while they still had additional time to try to equalize, have toured the football planet.
While the Tunisian press was unleashed against the referee for this premature whistle, the organizing committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced that it was approving Mali’s victory and rejecting the reserve of the Tunisian team.
After this first defeat in CAN-2022, Mondher Kebaier’s men are already up against the wall. They have no room for error, Sunday January 16 at 5 p.m., against Mauritania for their second meeting in group F.
“We have overcome the scandal with the referee”
For the coach, the controversy is already ancient history. “We are concentrating on the next game against Mauritania. We have overcome the scandal with the referee and the fact that we have cases of Covid-19 in the team. We are betting on energy, quality and collective effort of the players like that of the Arab Cup”, where the Eagles of Carthage had reached the final, he declared in a press conference on the eve of this meeting.
In addition to these incredible beginnings, Tunisia is also suffering from the pandemic. Six players from the selection have tested positive for Covid-19: Naim Sliti, Yoann Touzghar, Oussama Haddadi, Mohamed Drager, Dylan Bronn and Issam Jebali have been placed in isolation and will not be able to participate in the match against Mauritania.
Despite these difficulties, the Eagles of Carthage have not lost their motivation. “We left our families for this, we are here to pay the sacrifice by winning. Our only goal is to win,” said striker Seifeddine Jaziri at the same conference.
Outsider on paper, Mauritania, which also lost its first match against Gambia (0-1), also wants to believe it. “We believe a lot in our quality going into tomorrow’s game. Tunisia may be favorites but we have quality and resilient players too. Be ready for the upheavals when we meet Tunisia,” said French coach Didier De Rossa.
“Get to qualify as quickly as possible”
After a convincing debut against Tunisia, Mali can qualify directly for the round of 16, Sunday at 2 p.m., in the event of a victory over Gambia. This meeting already looks like a small final in group F.
“They won their first game. We won our first game. Whoever wins this confrontation will have a good chance of qualifying for the round of 16. We are preparing for this game calmly. We will give everything to get the qualify as quickly as possible”, explained defender Massadio Haïdara at the microphone of the Malian football federation.
For their very first game in an Africa Cup of Nations, The Gambia scored a first victory and made a strong impression. The Malians are warned, as Massadio Haïdara points out: “It’s a very strong team, which has offensive assets. We saw it against Mauritania. It’s up to us to be vigilant against this team”.