Talismanic midfielder Youssef Msakni proved his worth with a last-gasp strike to aid Tunisia to a lone goal victory over rivals Algeria on Tuesday evening in Rustenburg.
The Lekhwiya forward scored the match winner on the stroke of full time with a curling effort that beat Rais M’bolhi as the Carthage Eagles got off to a perfect start at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
Algeria dominated the Group D encounter, the first ever meeting between the two sides at the Africa Cup of Nations, but were punished by the late goal for failing after to convert the chances that came their way earlier in the game.
Tunisia were dealt a blow in the opening minutes after striker Issam Jemaa was pulled out for Namdi Harbaoui after sustaining an injury following a tackle by an opponent. On 29 minutes, the Desert Foxes tested the Tunisian defence but Islam Slimani was unlucky as his shot crushed the crossbar to the relief of the Carthage Eagles.
Algeria midfielder Adlene Guediora kept the heat on the Tunisian defence in the second half and came close to scoring in the 56th and 69th minutes, but his drives were no trouble for the Tunisia goalie.
The Carthage Eagles relied on the counter and during one of their raids upfront on 75 minutes, Khalifa and Harbaoui played a one-two. Khalifa played Harboui through but he blasted wide with only M’bolhi at his mercy.
Just when the game was heading for a stalemate, Msakni broke the deadlock with the only goal of the match with a curling effort into the right corner of the net for the match winner.
Tunisia has three points, just as Cote d’Ivoire whilst Algeria and Togo follow in that order with no points.