South Africa secured their place in the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023 round of 16 after holding out for a 0-0 draw against Tunisia in a Group E final clash played in Korhogo’s Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The result means the 1996 champions advance to the knockout stages for the first time since the 2019 edition held in Egypt.
Their opposition from the opposite end of the continent disappointingly crashed out of the competition as they finished bottom of the group following a simultaneous 0-0 draw in San Pedro between Mali and Namibia which saw Mali finish as the group leaders, while Namibia advance as third best finisher.
Both sides went into the break tied at 0-0 with very few chances created from either end.
With ball possession on their side in the early stages, Tunisia were the first to ask questions of the keeper with Ellyes Skhiri heading narrowly wide of goal in the 17th minute from a cross.
Bafana Bafana gained confidence as the half progressed, with Man of the Match, Themba Zwane being the orchestrator of a number of attacks from deep. With a point being enough to advance, the South Africans sat back and frustrated Tunisia to a goalless draw which concludes the Group E ties of the competition.
Speaking after the match, Tunisia’s head coach Jalel Kadri said it was clear that the team tried their best but they were unlucky not to win a win they very much needed to advance to the next stage.
“Despite the defeat, we gave it our best. During the first half, we tried but couldn’t break them. We saw some weaknesses in their attack and tried to win. We were not so productive. We had tactical problems in the first game, but we have to take responsibility for this defeat”.
“We apologize to the Tunisian people. Football is like this sometimes. You need luck. In respect of the Tunisian people, we apologise for this result”.
Meanwhile, Hugo Broos, the coach of Bafana Bafana said in his own words; “A coach is satisfied when a team does what he wants and even more happy when seeing the bench supporting their teammates on the field. As a family and a team, this is what we want.
We did a good analysis of Tunisia. We played compact. We took into account that we had one day less of rest than our opponent.”
“We were good in the block, and they didn’t threaten us that much and I think after such a performance, South Africa deserves to be in the next round. Our first goal was to pass the group stage and we did it in three different ways. The game against Mali, Namibia and Tunisia was different but it got us the result”
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