AFCON 2023: Namibia Stuns Tunisia with Late Hotto Goal; Mali Humbles South Africa in a 2-nil Win

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Namibia’s winger Deon Hotto secured a shocking 1-0 victory over Tunisia with an 88th-minute goal. The unexpected triumph highlights the tournament’s trend of surprise outcomes during its opening days.

Namibia, positioned 87 places below Tunisia in the world rankings, clinched a well-deserved win as Hotto’s decisive goal at the back post proved the difference. Throughout the Group E encounter at the Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium, Namibia showcased greater enterprise and created more promising opportunities.

Competing in their fourth finals, Namibia had never secured a victory in the Cup of Nations before this match. Despite the chance to win by a more significant margin, poor decision-making hindered their efforts.

Tunisia, the top seeds in the group, struggled throughout the game, with goalkeeper Bechir Ben Said making crucial stops to deny Namibia captain Peter Shalulile. Hotto, who missed a clear first-half opportunity, eventually secured the victory with his late goal.

Namibia’s coach Collin Benjamin emphasized the enormity of the achievement, stating, “This is a massive achievement for us; nobody gave us a chance. This is for a country that really needs a lift.” Tunisia, considered favorites, were expected to dominate the match but appeared nervy and out of sorts.

The result places Tunisia among former winners, including Ghana, who lost their opening match at the tournament. Other strong teams like Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, and Nigeria were also held in games they were expected to win.

Tunisia’s coach Jalel Kadri acknowledged the team’s shortcomings, stating, “We lost control of the midfield and they caught us with their pace and aggression.” Tunisia captain Youssef Msakni’s eighth appearance in the tournament equals the record held by Rigobert Song (Cameroon), Ahmed Hassan (Egypt), and Ghana’s Dede Ayew.

Meanwhile, in another Group E fixture, Mali capitalized on an early opportunity to beat South Africa 2-0. After Percy Tau missed a penalty, Mali’s captain Hamari Traore broke the deadlock, and Lassine Sinayoko added a second. This victory propelled Mali to the top of the group standings, ahead of Namibia on goal difference.

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