Tunisia cruise into AFCON last eight

Tunisia marched through to the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals with a 4-2 win over Zimbabwe at the Stade de l'Amitie in Libreville, Gabon, on Monday night.

  • Zimbabwe 2 Tunisia 4
  • Sliti opens scoring, Msakni doubles lead
  • Khenissi makes it three, Musona reduces the deficit
  • Khazri restores advantage before Ndoro gets Zimbabwe's second

Match Summary

Tunisia put the Warriors under severe early pressure and were always in command after going 2-0 up within 22 minutes and then going on to take a 4-1 half time lead. Zimbabwe pulled a goal back 10 minutes after the restart, but the result of the match was never in doubt.

Full Report

Zimbabwe were on the back foot virtually from kick off, defender Elisha Muroiwa having to clear off his own goal-line in the second minute before Yassine Khenissi wasted a great chance with a very poor first touch after finding himself clean through on goal in the eighth minute.

It was no surprise when Tunisia took a ninth minute lead, the goal coming from Naim Sliti, whose 25-yard effort went through a crowd of players and deflected in off Muroiwa.

The lead was extended 13 minutes later when the impressive Youssef Msakni played a one-two with Sliti before firing his shot through goalkeeper Tatenda Mkuruva's legs and into the net.

Khazri then had a free tip tipped over the bar by Mkuruva before the Warriors finally had a chance on the half hour mark when Marvelous Nakamba's shot from outside the box veered just wide.

Carthage Eagles keeper Rami Jridi had to make his first save three minutes later, doing very well to palm away Knowledge Musona's powerful strike from inside the box.

However, Tunisia were not letting up in attack and they had their third goal when Khenissi reacted sharply to turn in Hamdi Nagguez's low cross at the near post.

Musona had shown his class when he fashioned space for his earlier shot, and he provided a moment of brilliance to pull a goal back for Zimbabwe when he lifted the ball through two defenders before clinically volleying the ball in at the far post.

But a clumsy challenge from Costa Nhamoinesu two minutes later led to a penalty being awarded and Khazri converted despite Mkuruva getting a hand to the ball.

Musona was to have the first chance after the break, coming close in the 53rd minute with a well-hit angled effort from out on the right flank which saw the ball dipping onto the roof of the net.

Zimbabwe were given a sniff at getting back into the game when they scored in the 56th minute, a blistering counter attack seeing Billiat bursting forward and then feeding Musona, who nudged the ball through for Tendai Ndoro to stab past the on-rushing Jridi.

The North Africans could have had their fifth goal 10 minutes later, but Khenissi's diving header looped into the upright.

Msakni was denied his second goal of the night on 75 minutes when Mkuruva made a brilliant reflex save to keep out a close-range header.

The remainder of the game was played out without any further clear-cut chances as Tunisia completed a comfortable evening, their confidence growing as the tournament has progressed.

The result, which has resulted in Algeria being eliminated, means that the Carthage Eagles will meet with Group A winners Burkina Faso in the quarter-finals.

Second-string Senegal send Algeria packing

Senegal and Algeria shared the spoils in an exciting 2-2 draw at the Stade de Franceville in the final game of Africa Cup of Nations Group B on Monday night.

  • Senegal 2 Algeria 2
  • Senegal unbeaten and top Group B
  • Algeria exit the tournament winless
  • Slimani brace cancelled out by Diop and Sow
  • Senegal play Cameroon in the quarter-finals

Match summary

Islam Slimani scored in either half, but his brace was cancelled out by goals from Papakouli Diop and Moussa Sow in the 43rd and 52nd minute respectively.

The draw means that the Desert Foxes crash out of the tournament as they failed to win a single game in Gabon after also losing to Tunisia and drawing against Zimbabwe.

Senegal were the first team to qualify for the knock-out stages and will look to go one better than their best ever finish, runners-up in 2002 and be crowned AFCON champions. First they will have to overcome the Indomitable Lions who lie in wait in the next round.

Full report

Algeria knew that they needed nothing less than a win and began the game the brighter of the two sides.

It didn't take long for the North Africans to take the lead against a side with ten changes in it from their last match against Zimbabwe.

Sofiane Hanni broke down the left-wing and split the keeper and Senegalese defense to pick out Slimani at the far post. The Leicester City striker instinctively side footed the ball into the roof of the net to give his team the early advantage.

In the 22nd minute Senegal came close to an equaliser. Moussa Konate threaded a ball through to Sow but he was thwarted by goal keeper, Malik Asselah who was quick off his line.

The Teranga Lions were back into the game two minutes before the break. Ismaila Sarr made a tenacious run to the byline and his eventual cross was cleared poorly by Aissa Mandy to the edge of the box. A late arriving Diop then picked up the loose ball and volleyed the ball home.

George Leekens' team went back in front in the 52nd minute. Slimani completed his brace when he was expertly found by his club team mate Riyadh Mahrez and although he scuffed his shot, it found a way to cross the line.

Aliou Cisse's team equalized just a minute later in a clear example of just how badly organised the Algerians have been at the tournament. Sow fired home from outside the box as the ball fell to him following a slide tackle on Sarr. The Fenerbache man picked his spot and struck a low shot into the back of the net.

Algeria must pack their bags, Africa's top ranked team meanwhile are starting to gain serious momentum.

Scolari: Neymar is future Ballon d'Or winner

Former Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari believes his countryman Neymar will take over from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the best player in the world and win the Ballon d'Or in the future.

No other player besides Barcelona's Messi and Real Madrid's Ronaldo have won the coveted Ballon d'Or since 2007, Ronaldo winning the award for the fourth time in his career last month while Messi has been crowned the best player in the world five times.

Scolari, who led the Selecao to World Cup glory in 2002, feels Neymar, who is a teammate of Messi at Barca, will usurp both players in two years.

The former Chelsea manager told EFE: "I do believe [that Neymar will win the Ballon d’Or], just not quite yet.

"I would say that Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will again compete for the award, but two years from now I would put Neymar at their level and believe he could well dethrone one of them.

"Neymar is a phenomenon."

DR Congo v Togo

Africa Cup of Nations surprise package DR Congo head into the final round of fixtures in Group C needing just a single point to ensure qualification to the quarter-finals.

Their record in the competition, however, a win over Morocco and a credible draw against defending champions Cote d'Ivore, suggests they will go for the jugular when they meet Togo in Port Gentil on Tuesday evening.

The Togolese only have a point to their name and will need to beat Florent Ibenge's side and hope the match between the Elephants and the Atlas Lions does not end up in a draw.

Sparrow Hawks coach, Claude Le Roy, has a selection headache ahead of the crunch match. First choice goalkeeper Kossi Agassa may not have his head in the game after fans vandalised his home in Togo, blaming him for the team's loss against Morocco.

"He was really affected when he heard the news after the sad incident," Le Roy said.

"We are all supporting him because, after all, football is a game. Whether he wants to play or not, I will respect his decision."

The Leopards have all the momentum knowing that a win will assure them of topping the group.

But Ibenge has cautioned his side against going through the motions.

"Since the beginning I have said that Togo are more than tough opponents," Ibenge warned.

"I am very wary. That is why I say that we are not through yet. This match is a potential banana skin."

Klopp willing to help Gerrard into management

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he will do everything he can to help club legend Steven Gerrard become the best manager he can be.

The Reds confirmed that Gerrard, who played more than 700 games for the club, will return to his boyhood club next month to join the coaching staff at the academy.

The 36-year-old Gerrard's long-term ambition is become a successful manager, and Klopp is willing to help the former England captain along.

The German mentor told reporters on Monday: "We had a very good, very long talk together. Everyone in this room knows better than I do he is a wonderful guy and it was important to know what Steven wants and he said he wants to be a manager in the future. That's cool.

"From my side I said everything I can do to help him on his way to be the best manager he can be, I am ready for this and I'd like to do it."

Klopp added: "Now he is at the academy it is good for us and for him it is perfect. Being a manager is a job you have to learn and when a person like Steven Gerrard and the player he was is ready to make the steps, that is wonderful news for football.

"Combining his playing experience with all the things he will learn from now on will be a bright future. It is brilliant."

FA charge Wenger with misconduct

The English FA have charged Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger with misconduct following side's victory over Burnley at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Wenger was sent to the stands in injury time after complaining about referee Jon Moss' decision to award the visitors a penalty late in the game.

The Gunners mentor was then involved in a heated exchange with fourth official Anthony Taylor while walking down the tunnel and was caught on camera shoving the official.

Arsenal went on to win the game 2-1 after Alexis Sanchez converted from the spot in the dying seconds of the match.

A statement on the FA website said: "Arsene Wenger has been charged for misconduct following Arsenal's game against Burnley on Sunday (22 January 2017).

"It is alleged that in or around the 92nd minute, he used abusive and/or insulting words towards the fourth official.

"It is further alleged that following his dismissal from the technical area, his behaviour in remaining in the tunnel area and making physical contact with the fourth official amounted to improper conduct.

"He has until 6pm on 26 January 2017 to respond to the charge."

Mayuka's career in limbo after Zamalek snub

Reports surfacing from Zambia claim that Chipolopolo striker Emmanuel Mayuka wants to end his stay at Egyptian giants Zamalek.

The 26-year-old was left out of Zamalek's CAF Champions League squad for 2017, and it's believed he has remained in Lusaka rather than returning to Egypt.

The one-time Southampton marksman is said to be considering quitting his current club, although there has been no official word from the player or his agent.

"Zamalek has showed disrespectful to a player of Mayuka's calibre and quality. They can't leave him out of their continental squad," the ZambianFootball website quoted a source as saying.

"Mayuka wants to reclaim his national team place and wants to help Zambia push for a World Cup place in Russia as well as AFCON in 2019.

"And he knows he has to start playing rather than sitting on the bench. There are too many politics at Zamalek," added the source.

AFCON pitches come under fire

An increasing number of players and coaches have slammed the poor quality of the pitches at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.

The belief is that the sub-standard state of some of the playing surfaces have led to there being an unusually high number of injury casualties.

Included in the list who have already had to depart the tournament after only two rounds of action are Ghana defender Baba Rahman, Egyptian goalkeeping pair Ahmed El Shenawy and Sherif Ekramy, Burkina Faso duo Jonathan Pitroipa and Jonathan Zongo, as well as Mario Lemina and Johann Obiang, both of hosts Gabon.

Other injury victims from teams such as the DR Congo and Zimbabwe, among others, are still with their countries in the hope of a quick recovery.

Tunisia defender Syam Ben Youssef is one of numerous people who have expressed their unhappiness with the playing surfaces in Gabon.

"Of course (it will affect us) I think we have technical players, we like to play," Ben Youssef was quoted saying by the BBC.

"But it's usual for us to play in Africa on bad pitches so we have to win and not care about the pitch."

Burkina Faso midfielder Adama Guira voiced his complaint about the surface in Libreville.

"To be honest it is very hard to play on that kind of a field because you can't control your running and stopping so it's difficult," he said.

Egypt coach Hector Cuper also vented his frustration after his side's opening game against Mali, a 0-0 draw in Port-Gentil.

"The pitch was awful, but temperature and humidity too played a key role," he said.

An un-named player added: "The pitches are sandy and make ball control difficult. Even worse, it makes our thighs very heavy during games. It's very frustrating."

Aliko targets first league win

Niger Tornadoes goalkeeper Mustapha Aliko has targeted the club's first league when they face off against Wikki Tourists after a shaky start to the Nigeria Premier Football League.

Aliko who put in a man of the match display in their 1-0 loss to Rivers United to keep the scoreline respectable feels it's only a matter of time before they move off the foot of the table.

"We were playing against one of the best sides in Nigeria so we knew we were going to face a tough challenge," the captain told Supersport.

"We are not happy about the loss but we are a new team and the players are still trying to understand themselves. I am sure we will improve before our next game.

"Wikki Tourists are a very good side so we know we have to play very well to beat them at home on Wednesday," he added.

"Just like Rivers United they will be representing Nigeria on the continent so we know we will be coming up against a very good side.

"I want to appeal to our fans to stand by us as we will start winning matches to leave our present position on the table."

Cisse promises Senegal won't take Algeria game lightly

Senegal boss Aliou Cisse insists his side won't take the foot off the gas for their final AFCON group encounter against Algeria.

The Lions of Teranga have been one of the most impressive teams at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon and have already qualified for the quarter-finals after beating both Tunisia and Zimbabwe 2-0.

They meet Algeria at the Stade de Franceville on Monday night, while Tunisia and Zimbabwe will slug things out in Libreville at the same time.

Zimbabwe will certainly be hoping that Senegal won't allow complacency to creep in - if the west African country beats Algeria and the Warriors get maximum points against Tunisia, they will creep into the last eight.

Cisse, who has praised his side's character and spirit at the competition, says there is little chance of his charges losing their focus against Algeria; he wants his team to build momentum as they chase an elusive first ever AFCON title.

"A match between Senegal and Algeria is a massive battle," said the former PSG and Portsmouth defender.

"The objective remains the same. We came here to win matches. This is a match involving great teams and you can expect a great match.

"We are going to use our great players. We have to keep winning matches and improve on our confidence going into the knock-out stage," added the 40-year-old.