Tunisia are looking in better shape than they have been in a long time despite the absences of many of their regular starters while Equatorial Guinea have had poor preparations
Derbali, Ifa, Jemal, Chammem
Ben Yahia, Saihi, Hatira
Allagui, Harbaoui, Khelifa
Alvarez, Da Gracia, Kamissoko, Doe
Bolado, Juvenal, Fidjeu-Tazemeta, Konate
After a poor 2012 Africa Cup of Nations campaign that saw them qualify thanks to a huge favour from Chad on the last day of matches, Tunisia are hoping that they do not needlessly drop points in Monastir on Saturday when they face an improving Equatorial Guinea side. The north Africans may have responded by putting together a respectable 2012 Afcon run but they will be cognizant of the fact that they tend to struggle against the so-called smaller teams on the African continent during qualifiers.
Sami Trabelsi has cautioned his players against overconfidence following their 5-1 rout of Rwanda in a recent warm-up friendly. The former CS Sfaxien player was forced to use an experimental lineup due to a combination of injuries, suspensions, and conflicting club schedules. One such injury that will hamper Tunisia against Equatorial Guinea is that of star winger Youssef Msakni, who will sit out with a thigh strain. Another notable absence is that of defensive pillar Aymen Abdennour, who is suspended for a red card he received during the Afcon. A possible replacement of his, Bassem Boulaabi, suffered a broken clavicle in the win over the Wasps and his been ruled out as well.
While their hosts have an international friendly win under their belt prior to this crucial 2014 World Cup qualifier, Equatorial Guinea cannot say the same as their test against Angola was cancelled. In fact, the Nzalang Nacional’s latest competitive encounter stems all the way back to their 3-0 loss to eventual finalists Cote d’Ivoire at the 2012 Afcon.
That is hardly reassuring for Brazilian head coach Gilson Paulo, who surprised the continent by getting the upstarts past the likes of Senegal and Libya back in January despite being appointed hardly a month before the tournament started. Little news has surfaced with regards to his roster selection but the chaotic preparations seemed to work just fine prior to the continental showpiece so Equatorial Guineans will be hoping for much of the same this time around.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
This match represents the first ever international football match between these two nations.
Tunisia’s Belgium-based striker Hamdi Harbaoui scored on his senior side international debut in the 5-1 win over Rwanda. He played better than many expected he would and could feature prominently in Trabelsi’s plans from now on.
Lille are rumoured to have offered €5 million for the services of Youssef Msakni in a bid to replace the outgoing Eden Hazard.
Equatorial Guinea have never qualified for a World Cup while their hosts are one of Africa’s most consistent representatives with four appearances (1978, 1998, 2002, 2006).
After years of being constricted mostly to Rades during the rule of Zine Abidine Ben Ali, the Carthage Eagles are set to play in more parts of the country both during friendlies and qualifiers. Many attributed Tunisia’s entertaining play against Rwanda to the relatively packed stands at the Mustapha Ben Jannet stadium and the locals are hoping for a repeat.