Cape Town - Cape Verde will look to stun former Africa Cup
of Nations champions Tunisia when the teams meet in their opening Group B clash
of the 2015 tournament at the Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyin on Sunday, 18 January.
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The Blue Sharks, who are participating in just their second
AFCON (having made their debut in South Africa 2013 with an impressive run to
the quarterfinals), are one of the most improved sides in world football over
the past two or three years.
And Tunisia can attest to that statement, as they were
somewhat lucky to finish ahead of the Islanders in their second round
qualifying group for the 2014 World Cup – Cape Verde saw their 2-0 win over the
North Africans overturned after fielding an ineligible player. The Islanders
would have progressed into the final round of qualifying were it not for that
Coached by former Portuguese international Rui Aguas, Cape
Verde enjoyed a strong qualification campaign that saw them finish top of their
preliminary group ahead of 2012 AFCON champions Zambia.
They boast several classy players, including defenders
Fernando Varela and Gege, midfielder Babanco, winger Ryan Mendes and Sporting
Lisbon striker Heldon. If the Islanders ‘click’ then they definitely have the
ability to advance into the knockout rounds.
And the same can be said of Tunisia. They may have suffered
a blow with the withdrawal of forwards Fakhreddine Ben Youssef and Saber
Khalifa, but there is still plenty of class and quality, most of it based
coming from the North African country’s super clubs such as Esperance, Club
Africain, Sfaxien and Etoile Sahel.
Coached by Belgian Georges Leekens, the Carthage Eagles were
highly impressive in qualifying, finishing unbeaten at the top of a preliminary
group that included Senegal and serial AFCON champions Egypt.
Tunisia will be making their 12th successive
appearance at the Nations Cup tournament and 17th overall. Their
zenith arrived in 2004 when, as the host nation, they won the AFCON for the
The North Africans will be looking to erase the memories of
their performance in South Africa 2013 when they were eliminated in the group
stage. They beat Algeria 1-0 in their opener, but a 3-0 loss to Ivory Coast and
1-1 draw with Togo saw them finish third in the standings.
Kick-off is set for 21:00.
Head-to-head, Cape Verde v Tunisia*
*Includes a 3-0 awarded win to Tunisia after Cape Verde
fielded an ineligible player. Match originally finished 2-0 in favour of Cape
Matches played: 2
C Verde wins: 0
Tunisia wins: 2
C Verde goals: 1
Tunisia goals: 5