Tunisia strike late to defeat Equatorial Guinea

Tunisia strike late to defeat Equatorial Guinea
Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane of Tunisia ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Wednesday Jun 05, 2024. 23:02

Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane struck a late goal as Tunisia defeated Equatorial Guinea 1-0 in the teams’ 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifier played at the Hammadi Agrebi Stadium in Tunis on Wednesday night.

The result means the Carthage Eagles rise to top spot in Group H, opening a two-point lead over Namibia (who were held to a draw by Liberia earlier in the evening) with a third successive triumph.

As for Nzalang Nacional, this is effectively a third successive defeat. They recorded wins in their first two matches, but were stripped of the results (and handed walkover 3-0 losses) due to using an ineligible player. They are rock bottom of the six-team group with zero points.

Equatorial Guinea were the more progressive team through the first half, managing the only shot on target through the first 45 minutes – though Tunisia goalkeeper Bechir Ben Said was not unduly troubled by Pedro Obiang’s effort.

The hosts struggled to find an attacking rhythm, leaving the likes of Elias Saad, Hamza Rafia and Elias Achouri looking like they were not on the same wavelength. In fact, the North Africans were forced into a midfield substitution 10 minutes before half time, as Aissa Laidouni has made way for Nader Ghandri.

The Carthage Eagles made another change at the start of the second half, introducing Sayfallah Ltaief in place of Elias Saad, and they were much improved, finding a better rhythm of passing and movement.

However, Nzalang Nacional goalkeeper Jesus Owono was mostly untroubled, with the visitors able to keep their more enterprising hosts at arm’s length.

That was until the 82nd minute, when – with their first effort on target – Tunisia broke the deadlock via Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane, who struck home from the penalty spot.

The Ferencvaros midfielder’s effort from 12 yards proved the difference between the teams, with the North Africans claiming an important win on the road to 2026.

Tunisia will next face Namibia away in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Sunday 9 June, while Equatorial Guinea will host Malawi in Malabo the following day.

Tunisia (0) 1 (M.A. Ben Romdhane 82’ pen)

Equatorial Guinea 0

Tunisia: B. Ben Said, A. Abdi, E. Achouri, M.A. Ben Romdhane, A. Laidouni (N. Ghandri 36’), H. Mathlouthi, Y. Meriah, H. Rafia (H. Joini 69’), E. Saad (S. Ltaief 46’), E. Skhiri, M. Taibi

E Guinea: J. Owono, C. Akapo, L. Asue, J. Buyala, S. Coco, P. Ganet, D. Hanza (O. Siafa 76’), O. Mascarell, B. Ndong, P. Obiang, E. Orozco

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