Old rivals meet again at the start of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, and with tournament favourites Ivory Coast also in Group D, there will be a lot riding on the outcome of this match for both Tunisia and Algeria. The Fennec Foxes arrive in South Africa in better spirits than their opponents, which makes them slight favourites in this match.
Tunisia in problems
Tunisia are making their 11th straight appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations, but the Carthage Eagles could find it hard to progress from the group that also contain the likes of Ivory Coast, Algeria and Togo. Sami Trabelsi’s side were eliminated by Ghana in the quarter-finals at the 2012 AFCON, while they only qualified for this tournament by beating Sierra Leone on away goals. The team, nonetheless, enjoyed a bright start to the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, beating Equatorial Guinea and Cape Verde in their first two matches, but that doesn’t mean they arrive in South Africa in good spirits. After friendly draws against Ethiopia and Gabon were followed by the 4-2 defeat to Ghana, the Carthage Eagles will need to show a massive improvement if they are to get something from this match. With a lot at stake in the match against Algeria and the players very low on confidence, Tunisia boss Sami Trabelsi is set to adopt a cautious approach.
Experienced players Karim Haggui, Yassin Mikari, Anis Ben-Hatira and Jamel Saihi have all been overlooked, but at least the current squad is completely injury-free.
End of an era for Algeria
Algeria had enjoyed little success on international stage since winning the 1990 Africa Cup of Nations, but 2010 was a very successful year for them. The Fennec Foxes not only reached AFCON semi-finals, but also qualified for the 2010 World Cup, where they were eliminated in group stage. New boss Vahid Halilhodzic has caused a lot of controversy when he decided to drop the likes of Nadir Belhadj, Madjid Bougherra, Karim Ziani and Rafik Djebbour, but he, nevertheless, managed to build a very good side, with a number of up-and-coming footballers. As a result, Algeria recorded double wins over Gambia and Libya to reach the tournament finals, and they looked pretty good in the warm-up games as well, especially at the back. With lots of talent and experience in defence and midfield, the Fennec Foxes look well prepared for a difficult battle that awaits them in Group D, although the lack of recognized strikers may come back to haunt them.
Attacking midfielders Sofiane Faghouli, Foued Kadir and Hameur Bouazza are tipped to shine in South Africa, but strikers Islam Slimani and Hilal Soudani have just returned from injury.
Considering the stakes are high and that these are old rivals, there is every chance we will see a very tight game in Phokeng. Neither side will be prepared to risk too much, especially in the first period, which should make half-time draw a safe bet. Having said that, I certainly won’t be surprised if the match ends scoreless.
Top pick: Draw at half-time 2.05 (21/20) @ 188BET
Alternative pick 1: Algeria Draw no bet 1.90 (9/10) @ BetVictor
Alternative pick 2: Under 1.5 goals 2.62 (13/8) @ Coral
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