World: Africa Cup of Nations
Stade Omnisport de Limbe
4 - 0
(2 - 0)
H. Mathlouthi (4), W. Khazri (9), W. Khazri (64), S. Jaziri (66), X Y. Msakni (90)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

AFCON updates: Skhiri helps Tunisia win, Kossounou makes error, Bensebaini on brink of elimination

FC Köln's Ellyes Skhiri turned in an influential performance for Tunisia in Sunday's action at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. Tunisia's footballer of the year helped his side get their continental championship campaign back on track with involvement in the opening goal of a 4-0 win over Mauritania.

Other players who saw significant playing time since our last AFCON update here on Bulinews include Diadie Samassekou (Hoffenheim, Mali), Amadou Haidara (Leipzig, Mali), Omar Marmoush (Stuttgart, Egypt), and Ramy Bensebaini (Gladbach, Algeria).

Odilon Kossounou (Leverkusen, Cote d'Ivoire) was only on the pitch for a matter of seconds deep into injury time, but was still involved in a critical play
Having dropped their opening AFCON group stage match 0-1 to Mali, it was imperative for Mondher Kebaier and North African "Eagles of Carthage" to shake off their frustrations with some highly controversial refereeing and get back to winning ways on the second day of group stage action in Group F. Geißböcke midfielder and footballer of the year for his country Ellyes Skhiri was on hand to help his nation do just that.

Working central midfield in an ambitious 4-3-3, Skhiri combined skillfully with right back Hamza Mathlouthi in the 4th minute for the opening goal against the "Lions of Chinguetti". The Carthaginians then parlayed their urgent and forceful start into a doubling of their advantage four minutes later. French Ligue 1 veteran Wahbi Khazri found the back of the net after a beautiful take down Saif-Eddine Khaoui.

With the lead secured so early, the Carthaginians fell back a bit to manage the flow. The Mauritanians actually got some decent chances before a hail of bookings and stoppages brought the final 15 minutes of the half to a close. Didier Gomes Da Rosa's heavy underdogs also saw the better share of chances after the restart too until Tunsia once again struck two in quick succession.

The ever present Khazri scored with a fine loose ball collect and solo finish in the 64th. Khazri then set up teammate Seifeddine Jaziri for the fourth goal two minutes later. Skhiri secured an assist on the first goal, but was not involved in other three. In point of fact, the Köln mainstay's involvement proved fairly limited after the early assist. The 26-year-old did nevertheless go the full 90 and the importance of that early assist cannot be underestimated.

Elsewhere in Bundesliga-related AFCON news, Stuttgart loanee Omar Marmoush put in a 78 minute shift for his North African country on Saturday night. Following their opening round loss, Egypt also got their campaign back on track with a 1-0 win over Guinea Bissau. The 22-year-old got a pair of efforts off from the left in his own 4-3-3. Most importantly, he ceded the left half-space to Mohammed Salah on what would be the Pharaohs' lone goal.

Diadie Samassekou and Amadou Haidara both once again appeared for Mali against Gambia Unfortunately, they did not appear together this time. Samassekou played the opening half and was very active in both passing and duels. The Hoffenheim man even got a shot off late on. Aigles head-coach Mohamed Magassouba pulled Samassekou as part of a double switch that introduced Haidara at the half.

Shortly before the two sides traded penalties in a 1-1 draw, the Leipzig man forced Gambian keeper Modou Jobe into a fingertip save with a thunderous free-kick. Haidara was a little less active than Samassekou, mostly roving for service balls along both flanks.

Ramy Bensebaini may actually be headed back to Germany early after a shock 0-1 loss to Equatorial Guinea leaves the 2019 defending continental champions on the brink of elimination. Along with the rest of the team, Bensebaini had a very ineffective day. He was booked early and did not look confident in direct duels.

Leverkusen's Odilon Kossounou technically featured for Cote d'Ivoire as a time-killing sub introduced at 90+3 at the tail end of his country's group stage encounter with Sierra Leone. This particular bit of time-wasting did not work and the Leone Stars drew level with Les Elephants after the B04 defender headed back inaccurately to keeper Badra Ali Sangaré just after his introduction.

Sangaré got his studs stuck in the turf trying to prevent a corner and stumbled over the ball, which remained live. The underdogs took advantage of the bizarre situation and struck for the 2-2 at 90+4.

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