Tunisia breezed through qualifying earlier this year losing just one game in the process, although the battle for top spot went down to the wire. Subsequently, the Carthage Eagles have been placed in Group E for AFCON 2023, and this could well be seen as the most difficult one in the competition, as reflected by our Tunisia AFCON 2023 preview.
How did Tunisia qualify for AFCON 2023?
Tunisia wrapped up qualifying as soon as possible with four wins, one draw and a single defeat at the hands of Equatorial Guinea, but losing just 1-0 was a very good thing for the Carthage Eagles because they ended up on the same points, goal difference, goals scored and identical record.
This saw theirs and Equatorial Guinea's final places in the group be decided via who scored more goals in the two games they played and that ended up being 4-1 in Tunisia's favour.
Tunisia AFCON 2023 Preview
Who will Tunisia play at AFCON 2023?
Tunisia will come up against Mali, South Africa and Namibia with the first two ranking inside the top 100 in FIFA's rankings.
Mali were largely unfazed in qualifying, winning five games and losing just once as they topped the group with relative ease and are seen as the eighth-best country in Africa, some five spots behind Tunisia. With a young and hungry squad filled with talents such as Yves Bissouma, Amadou Haidara and Dorgeles Nene, they will be very confident of causing an upset by finishing ahead of Tunisia.
The 2010 World Cup hosts have often failed to make a name for themselves on the biggest stage since their carnival of football over a decade ago. Yet, they did finish ahead of 2022 World Cup semi-finalists, Morocco, to qualify for AFCON 2023. Therefore, despite being ranked 67th in the world by FIFA. South Africa could well be the biggest dark horse heading to Ivory Coast in a few weeks' time.
Namibia are the only side in this group to be ranked outside of the world's official top 100 by FIFA, despite finishing top of their qualifying group and ahead of Cameroon. Namibia are by far from being recognised as a powerhouse in Africa, but they will certainly play with freedom and not be scared of any opponents, making them a huge potential banana skin.
How far will Tunisia go?
Given the stunning qualifying run they put together and accompanied with the fact they are the third best African side at this competition behind Senegal and Morocco, we can see them going all the way to the semi-finals at least.
Based on their history in the tournament so far this century, going much further would be a big ask, with Tunisia having only won the AFCON trophy just once, when they hosted the tournament back in 2004.
Tunisia – Predicted AFCON 2023 XI
Tunisia's go-to man between the sticks is Aymen Dahmen who started all of the AFCON qualifying games. So despite Dahmen being rotated out of the XI more recently, it only makes sense for him to regain the number one spot when it really matters next month.
Wajdi Kechrida is a very versatile and useful player, with the ability to play at right back or right wing, but we believe it will be the former where he's asked to perform in the Ivory Coast.
At the heart of the defence is perhaps the easiest part of the team to predict. Yassine Meriah and Montassar Talbi are the rocks at the back and lead with force, while Ali Abdi completes the quartet. He can play at wing-back, but he must hone in on his defensive skills to help Tunisia progress.
Midfield is really where Tunisia thrive, as they boast some top players currently active in Europe's top leagues. That includes Ellyes Skhiri, who is the vice-captain for his country, and dazzles in the Bundesliga for Eintracht Frankfurt.
Alongside him will be Manchester United's Hannibal Mejbri, who is having a breakout season despite their struggles having netted his first goal earlier this season. French-born Aissa Laidouni completes a technically gifted midfield three.
Captain Youssef Mskani will be the man Tunisians pin their hopes on despite his age, because of the natural ability he's been gifted when striking a football. Haythem Jouni the second pick up front, but the side's pace and running in behind will primarily come from Sayfallah Ltaief, who only made his first start in September. He's burst on the scene very well nonetheless, and could be the wildcard option that terries defences.