Senegal take on surprise on Tunisia in Cairo on Sunday in the Africa Cup of Nations in the semi-finals with a spot in the Final on the line and glory following close behind.
30 June Stadium, Cairo, Egypt
Key Stat: In five of the last six matches between them, at least one of the two sides have failed to score.
Expert Verdict: Tunisia have done so incredibly well to get here, by hook or by crook, and they will come into this match underrated by many for that. With that being said, Senegal have the best remaining player in the tournament and have looked a whole lot more composed on the whole of it than Tunisia have. That gives them the edge as they seek to grab a place in the Final for just the second time in their nation's history. They do that with aplomb here.
Aliou Cisse remains able to call upon his whole squad here, though it seems unlikely that he would make any changes given the way they are playing at the moment having won three matches running now.
Sadio Mane has not had the smoothest AFCON so far, but he’s had far from the worst as well. He kept up his streak of making a big impact on Wednesday when he helped set up the winning goal, adding to the three he had already registered for himself. Everton’s hard working midfielder Idrissa Gueye was the man that grabbed that ever crucial goal, and he will be massive in both getting forward and stopping the Tunisians from playing here.
Senegal have four wins and a loss in their last five matches:
1-0 win vs Benin
0-1 win vs Uganda
0-3 win vs Kenya
0-1 loss vs Algeria
2-0 win vs Tanzania
Defenders:Gassama, Kouyate, Koulibaly, Sabaly
Midfielders:Saivet, N’Diaye, Gueye
Forwards:Mane, Balde, Niang
Alain Giresse will have one less day to prepare than opponents Senegal will have, so that may force a change or two. The headache he may have is out wide, with sub Naim Sliti also scoring in the victory over Madagascar to give him something to think about.
The name that fans will know best from this Tunisian squad is that of Wahbi Khazri, the former Sunderland man. He scored at last summer’s World Cup and is well known for his marvelous free kicks. He’s a danger to be aware of, but so is opposite winger Youssef Msakni. The Eupen man helped get his team off and running (finally) in their 3-0 win by providing an assist on their first goal and then scoring himself again Madagascar on Thursday.
Tunisia have four wins and a draw in their last five matches:
0-3 win vs Madagascar
1-1 draw, penalty win vs Ghana
0-0 draw vs Mauritania
1-1 draw vs Mali
1-1 draw vs Angola
Defenders:Kechrida, Bronn, Meriah, Haddadi
Midfielders:Chalali, Skhiri, Sassi
Forwards:Khazri, Msakni, Khenissi
In six meetings against Tunisia, Senegal have just one win, though the pair have split three draws.
Here's a look at the last three results:
Jan 15, 2017: Tunisia 0-2 Senegal (AFCON)
Oct 15, 2014: Tunisia 1-0 Senegal (AFCON Qual)
Oct 10, 2014: Senegal 0-0 Tunisia (AFCON Qual)
Betfair have the following odds available for this match:
Senegal are at 1.95 to win, a draw is at 3.1, and a Tunisia win is at 4.2.
Senegal come into this match having four of their five matches at the tournament so far. The lone loss came in the group stage to Algeria, whom they may end up facing in the Final should both sides win in the last four. Senegal scored five goals in their two group games combined, but in the knockout rounds they have scored just goal total, one in each match, showing just how much tougher it has been to get goals. With that said, they’ve kept four clean sheets, so that serves them well. In the last year, they have an overall record of ten wins, a draw, and a loss.
Tunisia have well and truly scraped their win into this semi-final, but it’s not about how you do it in the world of football. It’s all about getting the job done, and they have certainly managed to do that. They drew all three group stage matches, including one against lowly Mauritania. They then knocked out Ghana on penalties after a 1-1 draw before they got a bit lucky with the draw and faced Madagascar in the quarters. No disrespect to them, but they had been overachieving and were pushed aside. Overall, Tunisia have six wins, a penalty victory, three draws, and three losses in the past year of action.
Betfair have no for both sides scoring at 1.57.
Ladbrokes have Senegal winning the tournament at 5/4 currently.
It will not be easy, at least if history is anything to go by, but Senegal have the much better form and have the best player on the pitch. That surely counts for something, and it means they reach the Final in Egypt.