Tunisia, Congo cement places in Cup of Nations quarterfinals with draw
BATA, Equatorial Guinea (AP) — Tunisia and Congo drew 1-1 and qualified for the quarterfinals at the African Cup of Nations on Monday as Cape Verde became the first team to be eliminated by the tournament's tiebreaker rules.
Tunisia led Congo at a near-empty Bata Stadium after Ahmed Akaichi's first-half header. Congo equalized in the second half through substitute Loteteka Bokila, a goal that proved crucial for the Congolese as they finished on the same points and same goal difference as Cape Verde. Congo advanced because of more goals scored.
Cape Verde drew 0-0 with Zambia on a rain-soaked field in Ebebiyin in the other Group B game Monday and despite going unbeaten through the group stage, Cape Verde ultimately paid the price for scoring just once. Zambia, the 2012 champion, finished last in the group.
In Bata, both the Tunisian and Congolese players raised their arms in celebration at the final whistle, with the draw ultimately enough for both of them.
"The most important thing is ... they qualified, we qualified," Tunisia coach Georges Leekens said. "We are both happy. Both coaches happy. Life can be good. Enjoy it."
Congo will face Republic of Congo in Bata, while Tunisia is set to play host Equatorial Guinea on Saturday in the remote northeastern city of Ebebiyin. However, there is speculation that game could be moved as the 5,000-seat stadium may be too small given it will likely attract thousands of home fans. The Ebebiyin stadium had never hosted top-level soccer before this tournament.
After his team's draw with Congo, Tunisia coach Leekens was asked if he knew where his team would be playing the quarterfinal.
"That's a good question. I will ask them where we're going to play," Leekens said, turning to a Confederation of African Football official sitting next him at the post-match news conference.
"Where are we going to play, then?" Leekens asked.
The official said CAF would make an announcement on the quarterfinal venues on Tuesday.