By Tatenda Choto
The warriors of Zimbabwe suffered an early exit out of the AFCON tournament after 4-2 crush in the hands of Tunisia.
Four early first half goals ceiled the match as the Tunisians had a simple task in the last 45 minutes to defend and sail through, which they did and it drastically worked. The Tunisians produced a brave fight against Zimbabwe in the first half to book a place for the knock out stages with 6 points a point below group contenders Senegal who drew 2-2 with Algeria.
Goals from Naim Sliti, Youssef Msakini, Taha Khenissi and a penalty converted by Wahbi Khazi in the 10th, 22nd, 36th and 45th minute constructed a perfect bridge for the Tunisians to pass over to the next stage and for the warriors to drown in to the rivers of elimination.
The match that was one sided in terms of goals and possession by the Tunisians especially in the first half where they dominated and managed to capitalise on all the opportunities that came their way.
At the 36th minute the score line read 3-0 but the warriors’ tallies man Knowledge Musona displayed splendid skill past the Tunis defence for a consolation in the 43rd minute to reduce the deficit. Musona’s effort was seriously overshadowed after Costa Nhamoinesu fouled a Tunisian forward for a penalty which Khazi perfected for the 4th goal just before half time.
The warriors made some tactical changes by introducing the Orlando Pirates striker Tendai Ndoro who had lots energy and a point to prove after an embarrassing performance in the Algeria match.
Ndoro who came in for midfielder Danny Phiri added on the attacking zeal for the warriors who where legging behind time and giving up hopes for the next stage. The impressive Musona combined well in the middle of the park with Khama Billiat and produced a killer pass which found the boots of super sub Ndoro who managed to put it behind Tunisia’s goal keeper Rami Jridi in the 58th minute.
Zimbabwe tried to cause an upset by coming from behind and may be getting a third and then the equaliser but the Tunis defence was evenly disciplined to contain the warriors’ attackers. Tatenda Mukuruva made a couple of saves to reduce the damage and keep his side’s head above waters but time could not permit any further extensions.
The hot rhythm which the warriors had in the opening minutes of the second half was eventually calmed by the Tunis defence and regular passing of the ball to maintain possession and frustrate their opponents.
The referee whistled for full time with the match ending 4-2 a second win for Tunisia in the tournament and second warriors’ loss. Zimbabwe has been booted out of the AFCON tournament alongside pre tournament favourites Algeria who drew 2-2 against the Teranga Lions of Senegal. Algerian forward Islam Sliman was twice on target but that was not enough to save his team from an early departure to join hosts Gabon and tournament debutants Guinea-Bissau.