African Cup of Nations – Traoui stunner thwarts Senegal
Thu, 24 Jan 07:46:00 2008
A stunning strike by Mejdi Traoui earned Tunisia a 2-2 draw against Senegal in their Group D opener in Tamale after Senegal had fought back from a goal down to take the lead.
Issam Jomaa’s fine strike gave Tunisia the lead, but goals from Moustapha Bayal Sall and Diomansy Kamara put Senegal in front before Traoui’s late equaliser restored parity.
Senegal began brightly, and after Radhouane Felhi was forced to clear a dangerous in-swinging free-kick from El Hadji Diouf, Mamadou Niang gave a glimpse of his qualities with a strong run into the box followed by a wayward finish.
But Tunisia kept their shape and their composure, and with less than ten minutes gone they went ahead with a well-worked goal.
Jomaa surged infield from the left, exchanged passes with Wissem Bekri on the touchline and fired a low left-footed shot from just inside the penalty area past Tony Sylva in the Senegal goal.
Senegal struggled to impose themselves on proceedings, but after 20 minutes Niang found space on the edge of the box and produced a right-footed shot that narrowly missed the base of Hamdi Kasraoui’s right-hand post.
Tunisia’s game-plan involved sitting deep to deny their opponents’ pacy attackers the space on which they thrive, and it succeeded in frustrating Senegal until the last kick of the half in first-half injury time.
With Tunisia coach Roger Lemerre no doubt reflecting happily on a solid first-half performance, Raidi Jaidi failed to cut out a through ball and Bayal Sall pounced to slide the ball past Kasraoui.
The goal provided Senegal with a timely fillip, and they twice went close to taking the lead in the opening stages of the second period.
Diouf had a weak half-volley turned away by Kasraoui before he sent Kamara clean through, only for the Fulham man to roll his shot wide with only the ‘keeper to beat.
Tunisia made the occasional foray forward on the counter-attack, but saw both Francileudo dos Santos and Traoui booked for trying to win penalties with unconvincing tumbles.
It appeared only a matter of time before Senegal would break the deadlock, and on the hour mark Niang was guilty of the worst miss of the match when he put Frederic Mendy’s left-wing cross wide from six yards with the goal gaping.
Fortunately for Niang, his blushes were spared minutes later when a Senegal corner wasn’t cleared and Kamara smashed the ball home from close range.
That goal looked to have sealed the points for Senegal, but with less than 10 minutes to go Traoui sent a right-footed effort zipping into the net from 25 yards to earn his side a share of the spoils.