Tunisia-Algeria Preview: Fennec Foxes begin tournament with tough test against North African rivals
Familiar opponents Algeria and Tunisia set to do battle in Rustenburg, with both sides searching for a vital three points to kick-start their campaign in a competitive Group D
By Daniel Eslick
Gharbi, Alheishri, Abdennour, Boussaidi
Mouelhi, Saihi, Hammami, Msakni
Mesbah, Bougherra, Belkalem, Medjani
Lacen, Kadir, Feghouli, Boudebouz
Algeria will face a familiar foe on Tuesday night during their Africa Cup of Nations opener against Tunisia. The two sides have met each other 47 times and the North African giants form part of what has been termed the 'group of death', with Togo and Cote d'Ivoire completing the roster in Group D.
Algeria has been developed into a potent unit by coach Valid Halilhodzic, who has led a resurgent side since their disappointing 2010 World Cup campaign. Halilhodzic has seen his side climb to second in Africa in the rankings, with an impressive win record in 2012.
Valencia’s Sofiane Feghouli is Algeria’s trump card in the midfield, with the player showing class both in attack and defence. The Liga star will use bring his experience of playing in one of the most competitive leagues in the world as an advantage on Tuesday night.
Tunisia since their 2004 Africa Cup of Nations victory have not been prolific and coach Sami Trabelsi is under pressure to at least secure a semi-final berth for his side.
However, they will face a tough task in overcoming their opponents in Group D and if their stuttering qualification campaign is anything to go by, Tunisia should be considered as outsiders against rivals Algeria.
The form of youngster Youssef Msakni will be relied upon by the Tunisians, as the 22-year-old’s attacking midfield role is vital to the side’s chances during the tournament.
Leading scorer Issam Jemaa, who has scored 34 times for Tunisia, will also be a leading figure for the side and has been in hot form in the build-up to the Afcon after scoring four goals against Ghana and Iraq.
Neither side has experienced any injury qualms during preparations for the tournament, with both teams relying on their strength in depth in the midfield, which should be the most important area of the pitch during the match.
The two North African giants have a solid knowledge of each other’s style of football, while Tunisia’s goalkeeping coach Mohamed Nacer believes that his side will know how to combat every team in Group D.
"In football, there is no such thing as a difficult group. If you want to win the cup you have be prepared to play against all teams. For us, we are familiar with Ivory Coast, Togo and Algeria. We know them because we played against them in the past. I think the first game is going to be very important for everyone," Nacer told reporters.
"Algeria and Tunisia know each other very well. The game against them is very important since it is the first in this group, and every team looks forward to winning the first match," he said.
Both sides will see the opening fixture as a vital beginning to their Africa Cup of Nations campaign, as Group D does not get any easier for either side as the tournament progresses.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Tunisia only qualified for the tournament following a 2-2 aggregate win over minnows Sierra Leone.
The Tunisians have been unable to repeat their success since their 2004 Afcon crown, only reaching the quarter-final stages of the tournament since they lifted the trophy.
- Both sides have lifted the Africa Cup of Nations trophy on one occasion, with Algeria winning the cup in 1990 and Tunisia in 2004.
- Algeria won the last meeting between the two sides, a 1-0 victory in a 2011 friendly.
- Head-to-head stats reveal that Algeria have the edge over their North African rivals with 20 wins as opposed to Tunisia's 14. There have been 13 drawn games between the two sides.
- Algeria's biggest win over Tunisia was in 1958, an 8-0 thrashing away from home.
|William Hill: £25 in free bets|
|Sign up with bet365 for a 100% deposit bonus up to £200|
|Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
Top 3 Predictions
Tunisia 1-2 Algeria
- 14.07 %
Tunisia 0-2 Algeria
- 13.48 %
Tunisia 2-1 Algeria
- 9.93 %
|Africa Cup of Nations (ACN)||22 Jan 2013||Tunisia 1 - Algeria 0|
|5 Mar 2014||Colombia 1 - Tunisia 1||FR|
|17 Nov 2013||Cameroon 4 - Tunisia 1||WCQA|
|13 Oct 2013||Tunisia 0 - Cameroon 0||WCQA|
|7 Sep 2013||Tunisia 3 - Cape Verde 0||WCQA|
|16 Jun 2013||Equatorial Guinea 1 - Tunisia 1||WCQA|
|22||Moez Bin Sharifa||Goalkeeper|
|22||Farouk Ben Mustapha||Goalkeeper|
|13||Wissem Ben Yahia||Striker|
|-||Houssem Belhaj Mabrouk|
|-||Fakhereedine Ben Youssef||Striker|
|-||SI MOHAMED Cédric||Goalkeeper|
|-||Mohamed Amine Aoudia||Striker|