Henryk Kasperczak wants Tunisia to keep up their clinical play as they aim to book an Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final spot against Zimbabwe.
Tunisia claimed a vital win over north African rivals Algeria on matchday two to move into second place in Group B, behind Senegal, who have already qualified for the next round.
A draw at Stade d’Angondje would be enough to see the 2004 champions progress and Kasperczak is confident that they can challenge for the latter stages if they build on Thursday’s 2-1 win.
“It was a different game compared to the one against Senegal [a 2-0 defeat],” the head coach told a news conference. “The team recovered physically after the defeat to Senegal and there were a lot of positives from that match.
“We made the maximum out of the situation. We were efficient and managed to score, which is the only way you can win matches.
“Algeria played well, unfortunately things did not work out for them. We can always go far as long as we take our chances in every game.”
For Zimbabwe, who lost 2-0 to Senegal on matchday two, only a win will be enough to see them progress as group runners-up and they will need Algeria to drop points even then to be certain of a place in the last eight.
Boss Callisto Pasuwa felt his side were intimidated by Senegal’s physical approach and has challenged his players to rise to the occasion as they look to get beyond the group stage for the first time.
“It was two quick goals that unsettled the team and our boys were jittery, too,” he said. “But for the two early goals, we would have seen some good football from my boys.
“The Senegalese were very physical and due to that one of my key players, Khama [Billiat] was running away from receiving balls. This is the kind of football you should expect at this level. We lost but it is not over.”
— CAF (@CAF_Online) January 19, 2017
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Zimbabwe – Kudakwashe Mahachi
Scorer of his side’s first goal at these finals, Mahachi was a persistent threat in the 2-2 draw with Algeria on matchday one.
He was taken off at half-time of the defeat to Senegal but that is likely to make the Golden Arrows winger all the more determined to make an impact in a match that his side simply have to win.
Tunisia’s defence has been far from watertight and the 23-year-old’s pace on the break could be a vital asset.
Tunisia – Mohamed Amine Ben Amor
With a point enough to take Tunisia through, keeping control of proceedings and restricting Zimbabwe to as few breaks as possible is likely to be Kasperczak’s priority.
Ben Amor will be key to that. The midfielder made more tackles and recovered possession on more occasions than any of his team-mates in the win over Algeria, and his positional discipline will be important against a pacey counter-attacking threat.
With goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi an injury doubt and centre-back Aymen Abdennour not at his best, Ben Amor’s efforts in screening the defence could be pivotal.
KEY OPTA STATS:
– Zimbabwe and Tunisia’s only previous encounter dates back to November 1998; it ended in a draw (1-1). It’s their first meeting in the AFCON.
– Zimbabwe have failed to claim a victory yet in this AFCON campaign; they have recorded two previous wins in the tournament, both coming in the final group stage match played (2004 and 2006).
– Tunisia have failed to keep a clean sheet in 13 of their last 14 matches in the Africa Cup of Nations.
– Only one of the last five goals conceded in the AFCON by Tunisia has come from open play (two penalties, one corner and a free-kick).
– Six of Tunisia’s last seven goals have come in the second half whilst both of Zimbabwe’s efforts in this AFCON have come inside the opening half-hour.
– Ahmed Akaichi has scored in three of his last five AFCON appearances for Tunisia.
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