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27 Jan 2008 23:50
Veteran striker Francileudo dos Santos scored twice as Tunisia thrashed South Africa 3-1 on Sunday to go top of Group D in the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations.
The Carthage Eagles have collected four points from two matches and lead on goals scored from Angola, who hit back in the second half to shock Senegal 3-1 in the first half of a double-header in Tamale.
Dos Santos, a survivor from the 2004 Nations Cup team that gave Tunisia their sole title, scored after eight and 34 minutes, with Chaouki Ben Saada claiming the second.
Katlego Mphela grabbed a consolation goal three minutes from time for 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa, who were brutally exposed at the back and seem destined to make a third consecutive first-round exit.
Success was particularly sweet for Tunisia coach Roger Lemerre, who endured constant public and media criticism over results and his rotation system in the build-up to the biennial tournament.
In the final pool fixtures on Thursday, Tunisia tackle Angola in a top-of-the-table clash, with a draw taking both teams to the quarterfinals at the expense of Senegal and South Africa, who meet in Kumasi.
Tunisia announced their intentions from the kick-off, forcing two corners within three minutes before Sibusiso Zuma tested Hamdi Kasraoui with a shot the goalkeeper found too hot to hold and the ball was scrambled clear.
At the other end Yassine Chikhaoui was causing endless problems for Bafana Bafana and it came as no surprise when Tunisia moved in front after eight minutes.
Ben Saada crossed and Dos Santos sprung the offside trap to head over Moeneeb Josephs, who was retained from the team that held Angola when first choice Rowen Fernandez failed to shake off a hand injury.
Slick South African passing took the ball deep into Tunisian territory only for Sabeur Ben Frej, a key figure in the Etoile Sahel 2007 African Champions League-winning team, to clear.
A lofted ball then offered hope to South Africa only for Radhi Jaidi to win a battle of Nations Cup veterans against Zuma by booting the ball away at the expense of a corner.
Josephs was forced into the role of a sweeper as Tunisia continued to trouble the slow South African defenders with swift sorties and the North Africans struck twice within three minutes to take a commanding lead.
When the far post deprived Dos Santos, his low shot rebounded to in-rushing Ben Saada, and he slotted the ball into the net before any South African reacted.
Nasief Morris gifted the third goal to Dos Santos, weakly working the ball back to his goalkeeper and the France-based predator dashed in, rounded Josephs and tapped the ball into the net.
It was the first time in six Nations Cup and friendly matches between the countries since South Africa won 12 years ago that either side has scored more than twice.
Morris attempted to atone for his suicidal defending by beating Kasraoui with a header before half-time only for the ball to strike the crossbar and bounce over.
South Africa introduced first-round hero Elrio van Heerden at half-time, but Tunisia continued to press forward in search of a fourth goal that would put the result beyond doubt.
When Bafana Bafana did create an opening, Germany-based Zuma struck his shot without venom and from too great a distance to trouble the largely idle Kasraoui.—AFP
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