Goals from Sabeur Khelifa, Zouhaier Dhaouadi, and Amine Chermiti gave Tunisia a 3-0 win over an offensively inept looking Sudan in Sharjah on Monday evening.
The match got underway in a festive atmosphere, with Tunisians outnumbering Sudanese supporters in the stands, yet both teams looked tentative in the opening minutes. Sudan were slightly more effective in the early going as they pressed their opponents to prevent them from dominating possession.
The Falcons of Jediane managed to disrupt Tunisian attacks during the run of play but the Carthage Eagles opener would come on poorly defended set piece. Eleven minutes into the match, Khelifa was fouled outside the penalty box and Dhaouadi took charge of the ensuing free kick. The Club Africain winger curled his cross towards the Evian striker who expertly put the ball past Baha Eldin Mohamed with a lunging header.
Once off the mark, the Tunisians began controlling the match and creating opportunities to double their lead, the most notable of which Sami Allagui put wide despite having the goalkeeper at his mercy.
Mohammed Abdalla Mazda’s men responded with a counter-attack led by Aymen Mudathir on 30 minutes but the Al-Hilal player pulled his effort well off target instead of forcing a save from Aymen Mathlouthi.
Ten minutes later, the Sudanese had a penalty shout turned down when Nezar Hamed went to ground after being pushed by Bilel Ifa. In that same vein, their opponents also had a refereeing decision go against them when a Dhaouadi goal was called off due to a debatable offside call.
The second half began with both coaches making several substitutions but the complexion of the match didn’t change much as it was Sudan who once again got off to a brighter start. Substitute Mohamed Tahir came close to scoring and captain Haithem Mustafa also had an effort on goal that failed to trouble Mathlouthi’s replacement, Rami Jeridi.
Despite the Sudanese pressure, the north Africans padded their lead on 60 minutes when Dhaouadi slalomed through the Sudanese defence and capped off his run with a powerful finish using his weaker right foot.
Minutes later, Sudan had Ala Eldin Yusuf sent off for a second bookable offence. With additional space to exploit, the Tunisians added a third goal through substitute Amine Chermiti after a precise Majdi Traoui cross from the right flank. Another late addition, Youssef Msakni, almost struck a fourth for Tunisia but his clever long-range chip over the advanced Falcons goalkeeper went wide and the score remained at 3-0.
Coach Mazda will undoubtedly be contemplating ways to strengthen his inefficient attack while Trabelsi must continue to ponder which three players he will drop in order to cut a 26-man squad to 23 players by the January 11th deadline for final African Cup of Nations (Afcon) lists.