World: Africa Cup of Nations
0 - 1
(0 - 0)
D. Hotto (88)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Skhiri and Laïdouni's Tunisia suffer shock defeat to Namibia in AFCON opener

The second major upset of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations saw the "Brave Warriors" of Namibia claim their first-ever win at the continental showpiece. 

The scalp belongs to North African powerhouse Tunisia, who never really managed to establish their game against their upstart southern African opponents. 
Two of the three German club players representing their native land of Tunisia have come away empty handed in their opening group stage fixture of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations. Eintracht Frankfurt's Ellyes Skhiri and 1. FC Union Berlin's Aïssa Laïdouni both featured prominently for Jalel Kadri's "Eagles of Carthage" in Tunisia's AFCON opener against Namibia. Their team nevertheless suffered a shock upset against young south African nation. The upset easily surpasses Cape Verde's unexpected victory over Ghana on Sunday as the biggest shock of the tournament thus far.

Kadri's Carthaginians appeared unsorted against the underdogs from the very start. Collin Benjamin's Namibians were able to generate a flurry of chances in the opening minutes. The sub-Saharans caused the Tunisians persistent problems with their high pressing and tight defending. The opening 45 came to a close with Namibia having enjoyed the far better chances to open the scoring. The North Africans produced nothing after a chance of a corner four minutes in. Tunisian starter Skhiri was joined by Laïdouni when Kadri substituted the Union man on for the restart.

Just like in the first half, the Tunisian attack fizzled out following an early chance. Namibian keeper Llyod Kazupa was eventually tested again ten minutes from time, making an excellent fingertip save. Kazupa's teammates rewarded their net-minder for his stellar performance with what would prove the match-winner eight minutes later. An crisp counter unmarked Deon Hotto headed home the 1-0 from close range in the 88th. Hotto turned the ball into the back of the net again five minutes later, but his tally was chalked off for offside. Tunisia's slightly improved second-half play counted for naught.

Skhiri often looked lost within a packed midfield over the course of his full 90-minute deployment. The long-time 1. FC Köln star accrued only 45 touches and only found his way forward to cross once. Skhiri did win his lone aerial duel, yet was rarely present in the fight for second balls in the midfield. Laïdouni played deep in central midfield during his deployment. The 2022 World Cup standout did move the attack forward with 28 passes and went on three long carries of his own. German football's third representative, Oussama Haddadi of SpVgg Greuther Fürth remained unused on the bench.

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