AFCON 2023 Matchday 4 roundup: Namibia shock Tunisia, late winners & penalty miss

The first round of matches in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2023) are still ongoing, with matchday four truly demonstrating the unpredictability of the tournament.

There was a shock win, a penalty miss, last-minute winners and the full drama that has often made the AFCON tournament exciting.

Here’s a quick recap of the major happenings on matchday four in the Ivory Coast:

Tuesday’s AFCON 2023 talking points

Burkina Faso leave it late against Mauritania

Having watched the first Group D game end in a stalemate between Algeria and Angola, Burkina Faso went into their match against Mauritania knowing that a win would take them to the top of the group.

The Stallions laboured for large spells and struggled to create clear-cut chances despite dominating possession, although Mauritania would’ve been very proud of how resiliently they also defended.

AFCON 2023: Achouri Elyes Elias of Tunisia challenges Riaan Welwin Hanamub of Namibia
Achouri Elyes Elias of Tunisia challenges Riaan Welwin Hanamub of Namibia during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations Finals match between Tunisia and Namibia at Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium in Korhogo on 16 January 2024 Weam Mostafa/Sports Inc – Photo by Icon Sport

The game, though, would be won deep into added time when Hubert Velud’s side was awarded a penalty following a very naïve tackle in the box. Aston Villa winger Bertrand Traore stepped up and converted the penalty to break the hearts of the Mauritanians as Burkina Faso ran out as 1-0 winners.

Namibia upset Tunisia

Many predicted that Namibia would be the whipping boys of Group E after they were paired against Tunisia, Mali and South Africa in literally the group of death.

But the Brave Warriors had earlier shown signs of their readiness to upset the status quo when they held Ghana to a goalless draw in a pre-AFCON friendly before travelling to Ivory Coast.

On Tuesday, Collin Benjamin and his charges did one better by beating Tunisia in their opening game of the tournament. A spirited performance saw Namibia weather the storm from Tunisia for large spells before Deon Hotto’s late strike secured them a huge victory – the country’s first-ever win in the AFCON.

Mali announce themselves with South Africa win

Mali have been among the outsiders for the AFCON for over a decade now due to the quality, youth and depth in the squad that they have.

On Tuesday, though, the Eagles announced themselves in Ivory Coast with a performance that culminated in a 2-0 victory against South Africa.

Eric Chelle’s side didn’t particularly have a great start and were dominated by a very athletic Bafana Bafana. However, the turning point in the game seemed to be Percy Tao’s penalty miss in the 18th minute.

This switched the momentum between the two teams and Mali took full advantage, scoring twice in six minutes in the second half to begin their 2023 AFCON campaign with a deserved victory.

Play of the day

Our play of the day is Muzeu Betuel's beautiful assist that led to Namibia’s winner against Tunisia.

What’s next?

Group F will wrap up the first round of matches for the 2023 AFCON, with Morocco taking on Tanzania while DR Congo also faces Zambia on matchday five.

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Emmanuel Ayamga

Emmanuel Ayamga is an African sports writer, with bylines on DW, Al Jazeera, World Soccer Magazine and These Football Times.