Madagascar vs Tunisia : Tunisia beat Ghana on penalties and now face Madagascar in the AFCON quarterfinals, but Naim Sliti admits there is still work to be done.
Africa Cup of Nations debutantes Madagascar are not a team Tunisia should take lightly in the quarterfinals, according to Naim Sliti.
The Eagles of Carthage, who won the continental competition for the only time in 2004, have made it to the last eight without winning a game outright – their victory over Ghana in the last 16 only came via a penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw.
Tunisia’s reward for eliminating one of the tournament heavyweights is a last-eight tie against surprise package Madagascar, which they are strong favourites to win.
The tournament debutants have surpassed all expectations to reach this stage and face opponents who have not been at their best
Madagascar and Tunisia will compete at the Al Salam Stadium to become the final side into the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals.
In their first appearance at the finals, Madagascar have gone down a storm, going undefeated through the group stage before ousting DR Congo on penalties in the last 16.
Tunisia have a greater history of success on the football field but only squeezed through as one of the best third-placed sides after drawing their three group stages, before defeating Ghana on penalties.
Madagascar coach Nicolas Dupuis wants the Indian Ocean islanders to “keep dreaming together” as the surprise team of this Africa Cup of Nations face Tunisia on Thursday for a spot in the semi-finals.
Nicknamed ‘Barea’, after a breed of local cattle, Madagascar beat three-time winners Nigeria to finish top of their group in Egypt and then overcame DR Congo on penalties in the last 16 to extend their remarkable adventure.
The countries have met competitively only twice with Tunisia winning 1-0 at home and 2-0 away in 2002 World Cup qualifying.
“Whether I will start against Madagascar is left with the coach [Alain Giresse]. But if we win it would be a victory for all of us.”
Khazri urged his teammates to play with the same level produced against Ghana to silence their critics.
“Now that we have progressed to the quarter-finals, we need to show the same strength against Madagascar,” he added.
Madagascar will become the first Africa Cup of Nations debutants in 23 years to reach the semi-finals if they defeat Tunisia in a last-eight match in Cairo Thursday.
The last team to achieve the feat, South Africa, went on to win the 1996 tournament by defeating Tunisia 2-0 in the final in Soweto.