Tunisia is counting on the recovery of its star Youssef Msakni from the Corona virus and hopes to achieve revenge against 28-year-old Mali, when they meet Wednesday in Limbe in the first round of Group F of the African Nations Cup in football in Cameroon.
Mali had shocked Tunisia, host of the 1994 edition, when it beat it 2-0 in the first round, and caused it to be eliminated early from the competition in front of its fans at the Olympic Stadium in El Menzah. In the second meeting in the continental competition, in the last edition in 2019, the meeting between them ended in a 1-1 draw.
Tunisia, the twentieth participant in the finals and the 2004 champion, fell in a similar group in the 2019 edition, with Mali and Mauritania also, while Angola was the fourth party instead of Gambia. At that time, Tunisia came out of the semi-finals with difficulty against Senegal, 0-1 after the extension.
The “Carthage Eagles” received good news before facing Mali, after Msakni recovered from Corona, but he will arrive late in Cameroon, which may keep him from coach Munther Al-Kabeer’s starting lineup.
The Tunisian Federation said in a statement: After conducting a new survey and a number of medical examinations, the player Youssef Msakni has recovered and is in good health.
And absent from Tunisia’s center Ferjani Sassi, the Qatari player of Al Duhail, who is excluded for technical reasons, like goalkeeper Moez Hassan.
On Tuesday, Kabir said in a press conference: We know very well how to deal with such circumstances. We are here for one goal, which is to represent Tunisia in the best way. We are here for the history and heritage of our country.
He continued: “The accommodation conditions, the climatic conditions and the condition of the stadium are not of great value to us. The most important thing is to be ready at all levels on the day of the match in order to represent our country in the best way, considering that Tunisia will be a serious competition for the title.
The Tunisian national team has technical stability, as it has qualified for the tournament 15 times in a row since 1994. During this period, the Tunisians won the title once, on their soil in 2004 and occupied second place also once (1996), as they reached the semi-finals twice and the quarter-finals six times.
Like Tunisia, Mali reached the final round of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, and is looking for a first World Cup participation in its history through a squad, most of which are professional abroad.
Mali, who is participating for the 12th time in the finals and the eighth in a row, dreams of embracing the title for the first time, especially since the tournament is being held in Cameroon, which witnessed the best achievement of the “Eagles” team when it was runner-up in the 1972 edition.
The Mali team is not among the prominent candidates in the current edition, but the nucleus of the squad includes Brighton midfielder Yves Bisoma and Southampton striker Moussa Djenepo, which makes him able to book his ticket to the quarter-finals at least.