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Botswana frustrate dominant Tunisia in African Cup of Nations qualifier

Taha Yassine Khenissi of Tunisia reacts to referee decision during the Africa Cup of Nations 2019 Finals semifinal game between Senegal and Tunisia at 30 June Stadium in Cairo, Egypt on 14 July 2019 © Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Botswana frustrated Tunisia in a 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualification Group J match which ended in a 0-0 draw at the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium in Francistown on Sunday afternoon.

The draw saw the Zebras pick up their first point in Group J having started their qualifying campaign with a narrow 1-0 defeat to the 1982 Afcon runners Libya in Benghazi on Wednesday.

Currently placed third on the Group J standings, Botswana’s next game in the 2023 Afcon qualifiers will be against Equatorial Guinea away in September this year as they look to secure their first win.

While Tunisia remained at the top of the group standings following the draw having hammered Equatorial Guinea 4-0 at home on Thursday in their first game and they will face Libya in September this year.

The Zebras were under siege in the opening 20 minutes of the game as the Carthage Eagles searched for the opening goal with goalkeeper Goitseone Phokoe forced to come out and deny Issam Jebali.

Phoko produced a superb save to deny Firas Ben Larbi from close range. The Gaborone United shot-stopper was then beaten by Ben Larbi’s rasping shot, but the crossbar came to Botswana’s rescue.

The hosts improved gradually as the match progressed and keeper Bechir Ben Saïd produced a double save to deny Tumisang Orebonye and Kabelo Seakanyeng. The score was 0-0 at half-time with Botswana having contained Tunisia.

The Zebras played much better after the restart as they were able to keep possession well in the Carthage Eagles’ half, but were struggling to create clear-cut chances against the 2004 African champions.

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With the Botswana defence looking solid and compact, Tunisia’s coach Jalel Kadri decided to introduce attacker Elias Achouri and 2017 CAF Champions League Golden Boot winner Taha Yassine Khenissi.

Both teams created chances towards the end of the game and Khenissi came closest to scoring when his shot hit the crossbar with Phoko well beaten in the last minute of the match.

TEAMS

Botswana: Phoko, Kgaswane (Mabaya 55′), Gaolaolwe, Ditlhokwe, Johnson, Velaphi, Seakanyeng (Kgamanyane 62′), Ditsele, Setsile (Sesinyi 62′), Cooper, Orebonye

Tunisia: Ben Saïd, Ifa, Maâloul, Abdi, Talbi, Sliti (Mejbri 90’+1), Ben Alarbi, Laidouni (Achouri 68′), Ben Romdhane (Ben Slimane 86′), Jebali (Sassi 46′), Jaziri (Khenissi 68′).

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