Tunisia produced an unexpectedly devastating attacking display despite being shorthanded due to the conflicting club commitments of some of their international players
A brace from new recruit Hamdi Harbaoui and goals from Ammar Jemal, Issam Jemaa, and Jamel Saihi were more than enough for the Carthage Eagles to claim an impressive win over Rwanda, who managed a lone consolation goal from Badi Birori when the visitors were already down 3-0 at the Mustapha Ben Jannet Stadium in Monastir.
Despite missing many of their players due to conflicting club commitments, Tunisia’s new-look line-up began the match in dominant form, passing the ball about with relative ease against a Rwandan side sitting deep in their half. The Carthage Eagles focused their attacks on the wings, using Sami Allagui and Saber Khelifa as their focal points.
The first real chance of the encounter came on 9 minutes when Olivier Kwizera barely managed to save Jemal’s header. Three minutes later, Harbaoui attempted an acrobatic scissor kick that went straight to the opposing keeper.
Tunisia’s opener finally came from the penalty spot following a foul by Fabrice Twagizimana on the ever-dangerous Khelifa. Jemal took charge of the penalty kick and blasted his effort past the Rwandan shot-stopper to give Sami Trabelsi’s side a deserved lead. The hosts continued to control possession and create scoring chances by relying on ball over the top of the dense Rwandan defence for the rest of the first half but didn’t double their lead before the halftime break. On the other hand, the Wasps struggled to find any fluency to their game, only mildly threatening on some sparse set piece opportunities.
The second half began with Harbaoui earning his first international goal after an excellent cross from Khelifa and then showing excellent composure to add another just three minutes later after accurate service from substitute Anis Ben Hatira. Just as it appeared the north African were ready to run away with the game, Rwanda got off the mark thanks to their first organised attack through Badi Birori in minute 57.
Milutin Sredovic Micho’s players benefitted greatly from their opener while the hosts looked to regain their focus. It didn’t take long for them to do so, with Jemaa scoring a fourth after a failed clearance by Jona Nahimana. The all-time Tunisian scoring leader could have completed a brace but couldn’t get on the end of Khelifa’s pass with the goal-mouth gaping.
The rout was well and truly on in minute 77 when the locals used some trickery to confuse the Rwandan defence following a mistake from their goalkeeper that gave Tunisia and indirect free-kick inside the Wasps’ penalty area. Jemaa cleverly passed to an unmarked Saihi who made no mistake from close range. Rwanda could have reduced the deficit in the closing stages of the match but Karakezi’s header was well parried by substitute goalkeeper Hamdi Kasraoui.With the win, Tunisia will head into their 2014 World Cup qualifier against Equatorial Guinea with increased confidence while the Rwandans are left searching for a winning formula before their match against Algeria following two losses to north African teams during their preparations.