…Tunisia to meet Senegal in first Semifinal on Monday.
By Eniola Olatunji
Tunisia on Friday scrapped through the most heartbreaking and sensational game of the U20 African Youth Championship, the first to go into extra time which the North Africans won 5-4 over Red Devils of Congo on penalties after the extra time ended 3-3.
No 7 shirt, Esperance Sportive de Tunisia 19 year old player, Mohammed Aziz Abid scored the decider that threw the Cairo International Stadium into frenzy but attracted weeping and gnashing of teeth to the Congolese bench that was leading 3-2 as at 119th minute just 60 seconds to glory. So sad for Congo. But then Tunisia went into the second semifinals back to back being there at Mauritania in 2021 where they placed 4th.
The last time penalty shootouts were used to decide a match in the U20 finals was in 2014 but this one was more painful after the mandatory five shots each when the countries frittered away god opportunities in the miss and go out stage or game of death.
Tunisia got it!Deo Bassinga was supposed to be the hero of the night with his hat trick scored 24th; 80th and a penalty goal given by VAR at 102nd minute.
Tunisia opened scoring through Jubril Othman who was born in France and plays for Saint Etienne Second team in the 37th minute before Chouchane got an assist from Garreb to score in 76th minute.
The painful equalizer came from a corner kick and a perfect header from Saundi in 119th minute just 60 seconds to end the match after extra time.VAR had cancelled a goal for Congo in 45+4 minutes; cancelled another goal for Tunisia in the 68th minute but gave a penalty to Congo which Bassinga converted in 102nd minutes.
It was initially obvious that the game was going the way of the Tunisians who had 17 shots at goal with 10 on target unlike Congo that had 13 shots at goal with 4 on target but Congo struggled; Tunisia got 13 corner kicks to Congo’s 6 showing where the pressure was.
Thus, Congo who was champions in 2007 lost the chance to be at the world Youth final in Indonesia by the gap of the skin of the tooth giving the chance to Tunisia who were Runners up in 1985 and 2021.
By permutation of Nigerian Journalists before the match, their favorite Tunisia will fight a great battle with Senegal who are in form right now at the first Semifinals on Monday at 1500 hours while seven times champions, Flying Eagles of Nigeria will test their might against hard stinging poisonous Scorpions of Gambia at 1800 hours.
The four semifinalists will be in Indonesia for the Youth Championships in May this year..Eniola Olatunji reporting.#TotalEnergyAfricanYouthchampionshipEgypt2023.