After a shock result in the previous Group D tie between Cameroon and Gabon, it was the turn of Zambia and Tunisia to see who could join Gabon at the top of the table. Tunisia, who have enjoyed a few visits to previous World Cups, were the favorites for this match; but only just.
The greens of Zambia began stronger as their pacey players outplayed the reds of Tunisia. The Zambians ran around the pitch with a tireless energy and they got what they deserved in eighteen minutes. Mulenga was put through on goal and the striker opened the scoring by passing the ball into the net with his first touch.
Tunisia began to find a way back into the game with some long balls upfield to the active frontman Chermiti and although Zambia were still the better team, the Tunisians found their breakthrough against the run of play on thirty-nine minutes. M’skani made a bursting run down the left hand side, beating the defenders and the goalkeeper before sliding the ball across to Dhaouadi who passed into an empty net from six yards out.
Tunisia began to look more confident after their goal and they ended the first half on a high.
The reds of Tunisia continued their form in the second half and were quickly testing the structure of the Zambian goal when an early shot slammed against the post. Zambia was certainly not backing down though and gradually they found their feet again, breaking up some of the Tunisians’ play and creating more chances of their own.
With twenty minutes to go, Kalaba had a great chance to take the lead for Zambia when he snuck around to the back post and found the end of an Mbola cross, but his downward header was disappointingly wide. Zambia kept up the pressure and looked more likely to score as Tunisia seemed reluctant to risk losing this potential point.
This game petered out with little excitement in the end. Katonga and Korbi had a little coming-together at the halfway line before Korbi fell over clutching his face, acting like he had been shot in the hope that he could get the Zambian Katonga sent off. Luckily the assistant referee saw everything and the cheating Tunisian didn’t get want he was hoping for. Zambia very nearly got what they were hoping for though when a rocket free-kick from Kalaba forced a strong save from the goalkeeper seconds later in stoppage time.
That was the last chance of the game, though, and after a pretty uneventful second half, this game ended 1-1. The draw will suit fellow group contenders Gabon and Cameroon but both these sides will now need to go on and find a win or two.