KORHOGO, Ivory Coast :Namibia winger Deon Hotto scored in the 88th minute to hand them a shock 1-0 victory over Tunisia at the Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday and keep up the sequence of surprise results that have dominated the opening days of the tournament.
Hotto sneaked in at the back post to hand the southern African country, 87 places below Tunisia in the world rankings, a deserved win as they were markedly more enterprising and created the better chances in the opening Group E encounter at the Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium.
Namibia, competing in their fourth finals but who had never tasted a Cup of Nations finals victory previously, should have won by a more handsome margin but were let down by poor decision making.
Tunisia are the top seeds in the group but laboured through the game and their goalkeeper Bechir Ben Said make several key stops to deny Namibia captain Peter Shalulile.
Hotto also wasted a clear first-half opportunity and had a curling free kick saved minutes before he ghosted in at the back post to secure the victory.
“This is a massive achievement for us, nobody gave us a chance. This is for a country that really needs a lift,” said Namibia coach Collin Benjamin.
“We are not in a position to talk big before the match, when everybody calls us ‘underdogs’. We can only do our talking on the pitch,” he added.
Tunisia did force a sharp save out of Namibia goalkeeper Loydt Kazapua in the final 15 minutes with a header that was acrobatically tipped over the top but that was as close as they came in a game where they were expected to dominate.
The north Africans, who are the third highest African side in the FIFA rankings at 28, looked nervy and out of sorts.
They join Ghana as former winners who have lost their opening match at the tournament while Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt and Nigeria were all held in games they were expected to win.
“We lost control of the midfield and they caught us with their pace and aggression,” said Tunisia coach Jalel Kadri.
The match marked an eighth tournament appearance for Tunisia captain Youssef Msakni, equalling the record held by Rigobert Song (Cameroon), Ahmed Hassan (Egypt) and Ghana’s Dede Ayew.
Mali and South Africa play later on Tuesday at the same venue in the second Group E game.
(Editing by Toby Davis)