South Africa secured their spot in the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations Cote d'Ivoire 2023 round of 16 after holding Tunisia to a 0-0 draw in the final Group E clash at Korhogo's Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium on Wednesday.
The result marks South Africa's advancement to the knockout stages for the first time since the 2019 edition held in Egypt. Tunisia, on the other hand, disappointingly exits the competition, finishing at the bottom of the group.
Throughout the first half, both South Africa and Tunisia struggled to create clear-cut chances, heading into the break tied at 0-0. Tunisia had the first notable attempt, with Ellyes Skhiri heading narrowly wide of goal in the 17th minute from a cross. As the half progressed, South Africa gained confidence, with Themba Zwane orchestrating attacks from deep.
Knowing that a draw was sufficient for advancement, South Africa adopted a more defensive approach, frustrating Tunisia to a goalless draw and securing their place in the round of 16.
Jalel Kadri – Tunisia Coach:
“It was clear that the team tried their best. Despite the defeat, we gave it our best. During the first half, we tried but couldn't break them. We saw some weaknesses in their attack and tried to win. We were not so productive. We had tactical problems in the first game, but we have to take responsibility for this defeat. We apologize to the Tunisian people. Football is like this sometimes. You need luck. In respect of the Tunisian people, we apologize for this result.”
Hugo Broos – South Africa Coach:
“A coach is satisfied when a team does what he wants and even more happy when seeing the bench supporting their teammates on the field. As a family and a team, this is what we want. We did a good analysis of Tunisia. We played compact. We took into account that we had one day less of rest than our opponent. We were good in the block, and they didn't threaten us that much, and I think after such a performance, South Africa deserves to be in the next round. Our first goal was to pass the group stage, and we did it in three different ways. The game against Mali, Namibia, and Tunisia was different but it got us the result.”