DR Congo vs Tunisia | Monday 26 January | Bata | 20:00
Tunisia were considered a dead certainty to progress with three mediocre sides making up Group B. DR Congo went through a rocky qualification process and this fixture seemed a dead rubber on paper. But with Tunisia only narrowly topping the group and with victory for DR Congo being good enough to see them through to the next round, this match takes on added significance. A draw will do for Tunisia to book a place in the knockout stages.
To Win (90mins)
DR Congo 22/10
I still cast my mind back to their qualification game against Ivory Coast, where the Leopards of DR Congo served up an almost fairytale 4-3 win over the Elephants. Since this historic result, things haven’t quite been as rosy for them. Their only win thereafter, against Sierra Leone, was hit with match fixing scandals that dampened its credibility. After an opening draw against Zambia and managing to repeat that effort against Cape Verde, going into their final game on two points provides real opportunity for progression. Tunisia will be their sternest test and they’ll need to break their record of losing every fixture against them in previous history. Nothing is impossible, but the odds are heavily stacked against DR Congo in this one.
The Tunisian Eagles have been Group B’s trump card all along and go into this final group game unbeaten. Ranked 22nd in the world means they’d be stiff competition for a lot of sides in this tournament, let alone a team like DR Congo. You have to go back to a friendly against highly-rated Belgium to find the North Africans’ last defeat, and run of nine games without a loss will bring heaps of confidence to Tunisia. This run included two wins against arch rivals Egypt to add to their evident bullish approach. They’ll head into this fixture looking to replicate their recent form and there is nothing to suggest this shouldn’t be possible.
VERDICT: Tunisia 27/20
Whether or not DR Congo go into this one with a chance of qualification, I can’t see it affecting their hopes of getting a result in this fixture. Stranger things have happened, but Tunisia look far too strong on paper and in past head-to-head matches to provide any consideration outside of the obvious. In knockout rounds, momentum is paramount, so despite what Tunisia may or may not need out of this final fixture, look to them to produce what it takes to get the three points.