Bafana Bafana into Round of 16 after Tunisia 0-0 draw

Bafana Bafana into Round of 16 after Tunisia 0-0 draw
Photo by Icon Sport

Bafana Bafana locked horns with the Eagles of Carthage in their third AFCON 2023 game, knowing their fate was still in their hands.

The Hugo Broos-led side knew they must avoid defeat to pick a slot in the next knockout stage of the tournament, but it was a mission that even Broos knew was a difficult task.

The Tunisians came into the game with just one point and needed to win by at least two goals to qualify for the knockout stage.

If Bafana Bafana lost by two goals or more and Namibia did the unthinkable by defeating Mali or getting a draw, then Bafana Bafana would be heading back to Johannesburg with their bags.

In a high-stakes game, South Africa drew 0-0 with Tunisia to qualify for the round of 16.

Stubborn Bafana Bafana defending denied Tunisia a goal

Bafana Bafana vs Eagles of Carthage
Photo by Icon Sport

After floundering in their first game against Mali, Bafana Bafana stormed back to life in the second game with an emphatic 4-0 win over Namibia.

Against a Tunisian side that they've only beaten once at AFCON, Bafana Bafana knew they had to be at the premium to scale the hurdle placed by a desperate Tunisian side.

Tunisia's coach opted for a single change to his last game, with Youssef Msakni relegated to the bench, while Hugo Broos started Thapelo Morena.

Knowing only a win could help their cause, the Eagles of Carthage started the match on the front foot, taking the game to Bafana Bafana.

After the initial pressure, South Africa settled into the game and started building their attack.

Playing with a loaded midfield, Tunisia resorted to playing from the wings to find a way to get at the South African defence.

Within the first 11 minutes, Bafana Bafana had conceded three corner kicks.

The first twenty minutes saw plenty of effort from both sides but little in the end product that suited Bafana Bafana.

The Tunisians kept probing, but a combination of profligate finishing and tight defending by Bafana Bafana ensured the scoreline remained level.

As the first half wore close to its end, the tempo dropped, with both sides short of ideas on how to make the breakthrough.

It was a goalless first period with little to cheer in a half that suited the cause of Bafana Bafana keeping South Africa's AFCON 2023 hopes alive.

Bafana Bafana stifled the Eagles of Carthage

Bafana Bafana vs Carthage Eagles
Photo by Icon Sport

Tunisia started the second half the same as the first, looking to pressure South Africa into giving away an early that could kick start their resurgence, but the South Africans remained resolute.

For every Tunisian attack, South Africa ensured they had enough bodies behind the ball, frustrating the efforts of the Tunisians.

In the 58th minute, the Tunisian coach had seen enough. He removed Ben Slimane, who was playing his 100th game for Tunisia and replaced him with their top striker, Youssef Msakni.

For all the industry of Bafana Bafana, they found chances at a premium with no shot on target after one hour of play.

South African side was encouraged by the lack of penetration of the Tunisians to ramp up their effort, but all the beautiful play lacked end product.

With Tunisia pressing forward for a goal, South Africa started to see gaps at the back, but Bafana Bafana did not come with their shooting boots.

Tunisia's lack of bite was their undoing. They scored only one goal at AFCON 2023 despite conceding only once in the qualifiers.

With a 0-0 draw, South Africa finished second on the table after Namibia and Mali played out a goalless tie.

It was the first goalless encounter at AFCON 2023.

Bafana Bafana vs Tunisia Lineups

South Africa:
Ronwen Williams, Khuliso Johnson Mudau, Grant Kekana, Mothobi Mvala, Aubrey Modiba, Sphephelo Sithole, Thapelo Morena, Teboho Mokoena, Themba Zwane, Percy Tau, Evidence Makgopa

Subs: Ricardo Goss, Veli Mothwa, Nyiko Mobbie, Terrence Mashego, Siyanda Xulu, Nkosinathi Sibisi, Oswin Appollis, Jayden Adams, Thabang Monare, Mihlali Mayambela, Thapelo Maseko, Zakhele Lepasa

Tunisia:
Bechir Ben Said, Wajdi Kechrida, Montassar Talbi, Yassine Meriah, Ali Abdi, Hamza Rafia, Aissa Laidouni, Ellyes Skhiri, Anis Ben Slimane, Elias Achouri, Seifeddine Jaziri

Subs: Aymen Dahmen, Mouez Hassen, Ali Maaloul, Oussama Haddadi, Yan Valery, M. Ben Romdhane, Hamza Jelassi, Youssef Msakni, Haythem Jouini, Sayfallah Ltaief, Bassem Srarfi, Naim Sliti

South Africa vs Tunisia Stats

South Africa Tunisia
Shots on target 2 1
Shots off target 5 3
Blocked Shots 4 1
Possession (%) 42 58
Corner Kicks 5 5
Offsides 1 1
Fouls 14 8
Throw ins 15 18
GKΒ saves 1 2
Goal kicks 13 10

This article was most recently revised and updated 6 months ago

Chooka Izuegbuna is a Sports Journalist with 20 years of experience in print, TV and Radio. He has worked with some of the top media houses in Nigeria, including NTA Network, Channels TV, TVC, Silverbird TV and MITV. Chooka broke his sports reporting teeth with The Game Football Weekly in 2003 as a cartoonist and reporter. Chooka has a passion for football and has been a fan of Enugu Rangers (over 30 years) and Real Madrid (Since 1996).