Preview: Tunisia vs. Equatorial Guinea – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday’s World Cup Qualifying – Africa clash between Tunisia and Equatorial Guinea, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Tunisia and Equatorial Guinea return to action in the World Cup qualifiers when they go head to head at the Stade Olympique Hammadi Agrebi on Wednesday.

The Nzalang Nacional have a mountain to climb in Group H as they sit level with rock-bottom Sao Tome and Principe after being forced to forfeit their opening two matches by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee.

Match preview

© Reuters

Tunisia continued with their run of underwhelming performances as they needed penalties to beat New Zealand when the sides met in a friendly at the Cairo International Stadium on March 26.

In a heated contest in which Liberato Cacace and Elias Achouri picked up late red cards, both sides were guilty of a lack of cutting edge in attack as they failed to find the back of the net in normal time before the North African powerhouse secured a 4-2 win on penalties.

With that result, Tunisia have now gone five consecutive games without a win in normal time — losing twice and claiming three draws — a run which saw them crash out of the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations in the group stages.

Montasser Louhichi‘s men kicked off their AFCON journey with a disappointing 1-0 defeat at the hands of Namibia on January 16 before consecutive draws against Mali and South Africa saw them finish rock-bottom in Group E, suffering a second consecutive group-stage exit from the tournament.

However, the Carthage Eagles now turn their attention to the World Cup qualifiers, where they have flown out of the blocks in Group H, winning their opening two matches while scoring five goals and keeping two clean sheets.

Having stormed to a 4-0 opening-day victory over Sao Tome and Principe on November 17, Al-Arabi man Youssef Msakni came up clutch for Tunisia as he netted an 88th-minute penalty to hand them a 1-0 victory over Malawi in the second group game.

Equatorial Guinea, on the other hand, have been forced to forfeit their opening two matches by FIFA after the football governing body ruled that striker Emilio Nsue was ineligible to feature in those matches.

The Nzalang Nacional had won both opening matches, edging out Namibia 1-0 at the Nuevo Estadio de Malabo on November 15, five days before beating 10-man Liberia by the same scoreline in Paynesville.

Nsue, who finished at the top of the 2023 AFCON scoring chart, netted the winner in both group-stage matches, but with FIFA’s new ruling, Equatorial Guinea have now plunged to fifth place in the group standings with a -6 goal difference.

Juan Micha‘s men head into Wednesday off the back of a 1-0 defeat against Cape Verde in a friendly matchup on March 23, when Olympiacos man Jovane Cabral netted the only goal of the game five minutes after the hour mark.

While Equatorial Guinea will be looking to get their quest for a World Cup ticket back on track, they face the stern challenge of taking on an opposing nation who are unbeaten in six of their previous seven encounters, claiming five wins and one draw since June 2012.

Tunisia World Cup Qualifying – Africa form:

Tunisia form (all competitions):

Equatorial Guinea World Cup Qualifying – Africa form:

Equatorial Guinea form (all competitions):

Team News

© Reuters

Louhichi has named a solid 26-man squad for June’s qualifiers against Equatorial Guinea and Namibia, with the likes of Elias Achouri, Union Berlin man Aissa Laidouni and Esperance Tunis defender Yassine Meriah headlining the team.

There are also multiple new faces in the Carthage Eagles’ camp, with the likes of Hadj Mahmoud, goalkeeper Amenallah Memmiche and 19-year-old striker Raki Aouani in line to make their senior debuts.

Ben Ouanes has been named in the Tunisia squad and should make his seventh appearance since his debut in September 2019, while veteran striker Seifeddine Jaziri, will be eyeing his 11th international goal.

While Nsue has been slapped with a six-month ban by FIFA after ineligibly featuring for Equatorial Guinea since 2013, the former Spanish youth international announced his retirement after the AFCON back in January.

In his absence, 28-year-old Iban Salvador, who has six goals in 42 senior caps, will shoulder the nation’s goalscoring responsibilities, alongside Greece-based striker Josete Miranda.

Pablo Ganet started the first two group-stage games and should retain his role at the centre of the park alongside Sassuolo man Pedro Obiang, while Esteban Obiang and Las Palmas defender Saul Coco should form the centre-back duo.

Tunisia possible starting lineup:
Said; Valery, Meriah, Talbi, Abdi; Skhiri, Laidouni, Rafia, Mahmoud; Jaziri, Achouri

Equatorial Guinea possible starting lineup:
Owono; Ndong, Coco, E Obiang, Akpo; Ganet, P Obiang; Miranda, Nlavo, Siafa; Salvador

We say: Tunisia 2-0 Equatorial Guinea

Tunisia will be backing themselves to maintain their perfect qualifying record as they take on a deflated Equatorial Guinea side who will be looking to bounce back after their costly point deduction. That said, we predict that the Carthage Eagles will come away with the desired results in front of their home supporters.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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