Telling empowering stories, South Africans want to hear

Wednesday, 24 January 2024 21:20

Eagles of Carthage knocked out of Africa Cup of Nations after South Africa draw.

By Eshlin Vedan.

South Africa reached the last 16 at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations with a goalless draw against Tunisia which eliminated the 2004 champions.

Sphephelo Sithole had Bafana Bafana's best chance, forcing Bechir Ben Said into a low save with his shot from outside the box.

Tunisia failed to create clear openings but Haythem Jouini headed a late opportunity over the bar.

South Africa held their nerve to see out five minutes of added time.

A point was enough for Bafana Bafana to clinch second place in Group E as third-placed Namibia drew 0-0 with group leaders Mali - a result which saw both sides progress.

Hugo Broos' side will face the winners of Group F in the last 16 in San Pedro on Tuesday, and will find out their opponents later on Wednesday.

Carthage Eagles go out with a whimper

Tunisia were the more enterprising side but lacked end product, while South Africa played as though they were vying for the draw which would be enough to progress rather than a win.

Jalel Kadri's Tunisia had their first good chance after 26 minutes as Elias Achouri headed wide following a cross from Wajdi Kechrida.

South Africa's best first-half opening came when Percy Tau exploited a lapse in concentration from the Tunisia defence before playing in a cross which Evidence Makgopa headed wide at the near post.

Tunisia had more than 65% possession in the first half, but their play did not resemble a side which had to a win to stay alive in the competition.

In an attempt to attack from the onset after the restart, the North Africans changed their formation from 4-4-2 to 4-2-4 but continued to make little impact going forward.

Not even the introduction of experienced forward Youssef Msakni, playing in his eighth Afcon finals, for the final half hour could spark the Carthage Eagles into action although Nyiko Mobbie made a vital defensive intervention to win the ball from Ali Abdi inside the South Africa box.

Bafana Bafana suddenly started to threaten, with Sithole calling Ben Said into action before Teboho Mokoena shot wide from range and Tau had an effort blocked behind.

An unmarked Jouini wasted what was probably Tunisia's best chance, heading over Sayfallah Ltaief's cross from six yards out in the 89th minute.

Yassine Meriah headed a stoppage-time corner well off target and the result brought an end to Tunisia's disastrous Afcon campaign in which they scored only one goal and finished bottom of Group E despite being ranked above all three of their opponents.

Meanwhile, 1996 champions South Africa have a chance to reach a third quarter-final in four outings at the finals after missing the 2021 edition in Cameroon.