GROUP B concludes with all four sides hoping to snatch a place in the quarter-finals. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) examines the chances of DR Congo and Tunisia in Monday night’s clash.
DR Congo v Tunisia | Monday 18.00 | ITV4
Tunisia’s task is simple – avoid defeat and they’ll be in the quarter-finals. Opposing them is DR Congo with the underdogs requiring a victory to ensure their place in the last eight. It’s a fascinating dynamic that should leave to an intriguing contest in Bata.
As mentioned a few times now, I like this Tunisian side. They’re yet to show us anything too special but that’s part and parcel of Georges Leekens’ team. They’re far from flashy but they’re efficient grinders and I fully expect them to get the result they need to book a last eight berth.
However, without the need for three points, there’s no need in taking the 7/5 on a victory for the North Africans. Against Cape Verde they started slowly but were on course for three points before a controversial penalty pegged them back. And against Zambia they came from a goal behind to pinch the points late on without ever really getting out of second gear.
Leekens expects his team’s fighting spirit to get them the draw they need to reach the quarter-finals. They’re a tough team and that’s shown by the record since the start of 2014; losing just once in 12 and that came against Belgium.
And the Eagles of Carthage have been mighty efficient in front of goal so far, scoring with three goals from seven shots on target. They’ll take some stopping.
I said before and during the tournament that DR Congo could and probably would flirt between the sublime and ridiculous. After a promising opening against Zambia (1-1) where they were deemed the more likely, they regressed massively in a dour 0-0 against Cape Verde.
Star man Yannick Bolasie was a big let down against the Islanders and the Leopards will need him to be at his best, if they’re to get a positive result on Monday. But Florent Ibenge’s men may be without skipper Youssouf Mulumbu through injury meaning arguably three of their best midfielders are unavailable.
DR Congo’s threat comes in attack. With a vulnerable defence behind them, Ibenge’s team prefer to play on the front foot. That’s resulted in scoring in six of their last eight and they’ll require that forward line to be firing against a resolute Tunisia back line.
But I can see this game being a slow-burner. All five goals in Tunisia’s games have come after the half-time interval whilst 11 of the 18 matches at the tournament so far (including three of the four Group B games) have gone into the break all square at 0-0. So seeing William Hill dangling 11/8 on a repeat just has to be nibbled at.
DR Congo v Tunisia – 0-0 half-time correct score (11/8 William Hill)