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AFCON Preview: Tunisia, most consistent nation in AFCON sets for another showdown in Cote D'Ivoire

Posted : 09 January 2024

The Carthage Eagles of Tunisia are one of the most respected teams in the African Cup of Nations (AFCON), given their consistent appearance in the biennial tournament. The Carthage Eagles of Tunisia are gunning for their 21st appearance in the Africa Cup of Nations in Côte d'Ivoire.


The team was a finalists on three occasions, while they looked ahead to claiming their second crown, reached the quarterfinals, and hosted the showpiece three times.


Tunisia at glance in AFCON history

1962: Semi-finalist

1963: First round

1965: Finalist

1978: Semi-finalist

1982: First round

1994: First round

1996: Finalist

1998: Quarter-finalist

2000: Semi-finalist

2002: First round

2004: Winner

2006: Quarter-finalist

2008: Quarter-finalist

2010: First round

2012: Quarter-finalist

2013: First round

2015: Quarter-finalist

2017: Quarter-finalist

2019: semi-finalist

2021: Quarter-finalist


The Carthage Eagles of Tunisia, with a boost of 20 appearances, are expected to know the terrain, although they have only won the showpiece once in their lifetime. But coming to the AFCON 2024 as one of the highest-ranked nations, third in Africa, should count for something.


AFCON is not new to Tunisia, as the country is also one of the countries to have hosted the competition the most times (3) (1965, 1994, 2004), and the team, the Carthage Eagles, have reached the final on three occasions and only won in 2004 on home soil after defeating Morocco in the final (2-1).


Tunisia also holds the record for the most consecutive appearances at the AFCON (15) between 1994 and 2021. It also boasts two major victories (4-0) over Ethiopia (1965) and Mauritania (2022). Their biggest defeat was 3-0 against Cameroon (2000), Guinea (2006), and Côte d'Ivoire (2006). Coming to AFCON, the team will want to bank on the experience of its star player, Youssef Msakni, who is the captain of the side.


Born in Tunisia in 1990, Msakni spent all his formative years in the country. He made his name with ES Tunis before moving to Qatar. A charismatic winger, the Carthage Eagle made his international debut in 2009 at the tender age of 19. Since then, he has established himself as a benchmark for the national team. The Tunisian international is about to play in his eighth Africa Cup of Nations (a record). He has already played 25 matches in the AFCON, which just goes to show the longevity and quality of Youssef Msakni.


Now 33, Msakni plays for Al-Arabi SC, and at this year's edition, he will be trying to take his team further than 2021 (quarter-finalists). As captain, he is also one of Tunisia's offensive weapons. Also, the coach, Jalel Kadri, is not a green horn to AFCON, as he was a former assistant to Mondher Kebaier.


Jalel Kadri was appointed head coach of the Tunisian national team following Kebaier's dismissal after the AFCON 2021. Aged 52, the Tunisian technician has coached a number of clubs in his country, as well as the U-20s. He has also coached in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.


With the national team, Jalel Kadri has 12 wins, 4 draws, and 3 defeats to his name. He helped Tunisia qualify for the AFCON 2023 with 13 points from six games, finishing ahead of Equatorial Guinea. Les Aigles de Carthage have also won twice, against Malawi (1-0) and Sao Tome and Principe (4-0), in qualifying for the next World Cup.


Knowing that since 1964, the Carthage Eagles, Kadri should remember the history that the country he is coaching has a rich history as they stand out as the only African nation that has not missed an AFCON tournament, setting a record with an impressive streak of 16 consecutive appearances.


On March 28, 2023, Tunisia secured its spot in Cote d’Ivoire. This would make it their 21st AFCON appearance in the competition. The Carthage Eagles finished top of Group J with 13 points (4 wins, 1 draw, and 1 defeat), scoring 11 goals, and conceding only once.


Coming to AFCON 2024, Tunisia seems to have a reliable defence. However, it seems to be more promising in their attack, as Tunisia tends to make a good account of themselves from set-piece play. Concerning the left-back position (Abdi vs. Maaloul), “Al-Abidi is not a surprise. "He has been a starter for a year and a half with Tunisia, and Maaloul (5 m) is on the bench (against Mauritania).”


Concerning who is on set-piece duty, “Abdi and Sliti if it starts.” AFCON 2024 then presents the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia with an opportunity to affirm their superiority over other contenders for the title in Cote d'Ivoire.


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