16.01.2024 20:24 h

Hotto shocks Tunisia with historic late winner for Namibia

Deon Hotto scored on 88 minutes to give minnows Namibia a shock 1-0 win over former champions Tunisia on Tuesday in Korhogo as Group E kicked off in the Africa Cup of Nations.

It was the first victory for the Brave Warriors in the competition after two draws and seven losses since they debuted in 1998.

Hotto, who plays for South African club Orlando Pirates, raced forward to powerfully head a Bethuel Muzeu cross past goalkeeper Bechir Ben Said.

Hotto had the ball in the net again in added time, but the goal was ruled out by a marginal offside decision.

Before the dramatic finish, Tunisia had more possession but Namibia had more goal attempts and more shots on target.

Defeat spoilt what Tunisia captain Youssef Msakni hoped would be a memorable night as he equalled the record of finals appearances by playing at a Cup of Nations an eighth time.

Tunisia came close to scoring after just four minutes when a header from experienced forward Taha Yassine Khenissi was parried to safety by goalkeeper Lloyd Kazapua.

Peter Shalulile, who plays for perennial South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns and is the captain and star of the Namibian side, had a snap shot saved by Ben Said soon after.

Having concentrated on defending in the early stages, Namibia gradually became more offensive against the 2004 African champions.

Khenissi was forced off injured after just 15 minutes and Haythem Jouini took his place in the Tunisian attack.

A poor pass inside the box from Hotto brought a disappointing end to a promising move that threatened to break the stalemate.

Midway through the opening half the referee halted play for a water break to the relief of both teams with the temperature at the 1700 local (GMT) time kick-off 35 Celsius (95 Fahrenheit).

Aliou Cisse, coach of 2022 Cup of Nations winners Senegal, said this week that it is difficult to play in such heat.

"I am appealing to CAF (Confederation of African Football) to look at the issue of kick-off times, particularly those matches starting at 1400 local (GMT) time," he told reporters.

There was a dramatic start to the second half at the 20,000-capacity Stade Amadou Gon Coulibaly as Msakni came agonisingly close to putting the Carthage Eagles in front.

His near-post header off a corner was brilliantly tipped over the crossbar by Kazapua, who is only the reserve goalkeeper at South African top-flight club Chippa United.

The first choice at Chippa is Stanley Nwabili, who is also at the African football showpiece and played for Nigeria in a draw against Equatorial Guinea two days ago.

Later on Tuesday, Mali tackle South Africa in the second match of a Group E double-header in the most northern of the five Ivorian cities hosting matches.