Tunisia takes control of first place in African Cup of Nations Group B
EBEBIYIN, Equatorial Guinea (AP) — A late goal gave Tunisia its first win at this year's African Cup of Nations, and some quality saves a few hours later kept Congo in the mix in Group B.
Yasine Chikhaoui headed in a cross from Youssef Msakni in the 89th minute to give the Tunisians a comeback 2-1 win over Zambia on Thursday.
Emmanuel Mayuka gave Zambia the lead in the 59th, smashing in a cross from captain Rainford Kalaba, but Ahmed Akaichi equalized with a header in the 70th following a flicked-on corner.
"We had some problems in the first half trying to find our balance. It was the same in our game against Cape Verde," Tunisia coach Georges Leekens said. "In the second half, the players took more responsibility, and we deserved to win."
The victory gives Tunisia four points in Group B. Congo and Cape Verde, which drew 0-0 in the second match at Ebebiyin Stadium, have two points each. Zambia is last with one point.
Tunisia will play its final group match against Congo on Monday in Bata, while Zambia will take on Cape Verde in Ebebiyin.
The Zambians came close several times in the first half against Tunisia, with Kalaba and Mayuka linking up well. After Mayuka finally scored, he did back-flips in celebration.
In the 67th, Kalaba again sent a cross for Mayuka, but the Zambia forward was injured as he slid to reach the ball. He was soon taken off the field on a stretcher, and Akaichi scored the equalizer for Tunisia before Mayuka was replaced by Jackson Mwanza.
"I don't know what came into the mind of my colleagues after we scored. I was shocked to see the way they played," Kalaba said. "That was not the Zambia I know."
In the second match, Congo goalkeeper Robert Kidiaba made three tough saves in the final minutes to preserve the scoreless draw with Cape Verde.
Kidiaba stopped a header from a corner in the 87th minute and blocked the resulting shot from the rebound. One minute later, he stopped a shot from Cape Verde forward Heldon.