Zambia 1-1 Tunisia

By Stephen Fottrell

Oussama Darragi (C) of Tunisia and Felix Katongo (L) of Zambia contest the ball
Zambia and Tunisia were evenly matched for much of the 90 minutes

Zambia and Tunisia contested a tight and evenly matched 1-1 draw in Lubango in the last of the opening group games.

Zambia went ahead on 18 minutes when striker Jacob Mulenga hit a first-time effort past Tunisian keeper Aymen Mathlouthi, who should have saved.

Tunisia equalised on 40 minutes, after Youssef Msakni broke into the box to square to Souheil Dhaouadi, who smashed the ball into the roof of the net.

The draw condemns Cameroon to bottom of Group D, after their loss to Gabon.

The Zambians were comfortable in possession throughout the first half with Tunisia struggling to find their rhythm.

But the Carthage Eagles came out blazing in the second half with left-back Yassin Mikari seeing a fine shot from distance crash against the post on 47 minutes.

Two minutes later Mikari picked out midfielder Oussama Darragi who forced a near-post save from Zambian goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.

Kampamba Chintu of Zambia (L) and Tunisia's Oussama Darragi (R)
Both sides had opportunities to win a tight contest in Lubango

The Chipolopolo gradually clawed their way back into the second period, testing the uncertain Mathlouthi with several in-swinging balls.

Defender Kampamba Chintu should have done better when he found himself in space in the box but drove wide.

The two sides were then overcome by a bout of caution later in the second half, with both reluctant to go for the win at the cost of losing their opening game.

Mulenga, however, sought to steal all three points on 82 minutes, but smacked his left-foot effort into the side netting.

Two minutes later substitute Zambia striker Emmanuel Mayuka found the back of the net with his first touch, but was correctly adjudged off-side.

Rainford Kalaba saw his injury-time free kick parried by Mathlouthi into the path of captain Chris Katongo, who could not keep his follow-up header down.

Zambia next play Cameroon on Sunday, while Tunisia take on group leaders Gabon.

“I hope we can knock Cameroon out of this tournament,” Zambia’s coach Herve Renard said after Wednesday’s game.

“But it won’t be a battle of French coaches, it’s just Zambia against Cameroon,” Renard added, referring to his impending meeting with compatriot and Cameroon coach Paul Le Guen.

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