Tunisia/Algeria: Carthage Eagles Face Do-or-Die Clash

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Tunisia faces a do-or-die clash with Algeria as they prepare for a crunch Group B African Nations Cup encounter in Franceville on Thursday (16h00 GMT).

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The two sides had contrasting fortunes in their opening matches. Algeria did not play well but came away with a 2-2 draw against Zimbabwe, while Tunisia dominated Senegal for much of their encounter but ended up losing 2-0. Another defeat will see the Carthage Eagles ousted from the competition with one match still to play.

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Certainly that is the way the Tunisian players see it, with defender Hamdi Negguez admitting: “We will play the match of our lives. We have no other choice: either we win or we go home.”

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Tunisia coach Henryk Kasperczak felt his side deserved more against Senegal and has been boosted by the return to fitness of midfielder Mohamed Amine Ben Amor, who missed the opener through injury.

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Matches between the two sides have traditionally been tight and this is expected to be another tense affair that is always simmering, with the potential to boil over.

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Both sides are known for their theatrics and it is likely to be an encounter where the referee will need eyes in the back of his head.

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In 30 previous meetings between the teams in all competitions and including friendlies, Algeria have 12 wins to seven for Tunisia, with 11 draws.

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But in competitive matches only, the record swings in favour of the Tunisians, who have won six of the 12 games played, with three wins for Algeria.

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Thursday’s match-up is a repeat of the meeting between the two sides at the Nations Cup finals in South Africa four years ago that was won 1-0 by Tunisia.

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Algeria have, on paper, the stronger squad and must be favourites. But having got through the first half-hour against Senegal, Tunisia look the more organized and cohesive of the two.

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What a game of this magnitude often comes down to is who has the mental fortitude to win.

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Both will be desperate for success, but in a highly-charged atmosphere against a bitter rival, the winner could be decided by who can keep their heads for longer.

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