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Monday, January 23, 2012
Tunisia claim derby spoils

ESPNsoccernet staff

Goals in either half from Khaled Korbi and Youssef Msakni gave Tunisia a 2-1 victory over Morocco in the Maghreb derby and an ideal start to their African Nations Cup campaign.

The north African neighbours' last Nations Cup meeting came in the 2004 final, won by Tunisia, and The Eagles of Carthage also denied Morocco qualification to the 2006 World Cup.

Tunisia claimed bragging rights once again on Monday night, but it was something of a freak opening goal from Khaled Korbi as the midfielder's intended cross went through a crowd of players and straight into the net before the break.

Msakni extended their lead in the 76th minute of the Group C clash. A winding run from the substitute midfielder saw him skip past Ahmed Kantari and Badr El Kaddouri before rifling a shot into the bottom left corner via the shins of Morocco defender Mehdi Benatia.

Ahmed Kantari helped Morocco back into the game in the 86th minute when, from what seemed an offside position, he headed the ball down for Houssine Kharja to drive into the net. And although the goal made for a tense finish in Libreville, Morocco could not find a leveller.

Earlier, African Nations Cup co-hosts Gabon kicked off their campaign with a comprehensive 2-0 victory over Group C rivals Niger at the Stade d'Angondje, thanks to first-half goals from Pierre Aubameyang and Stephane N'Guema.

Aubameyang was a major threat to the Niger defence and he opened the scoring in the 30th minute before then playing a key part in the build-up to Gabon's second goal on the stroke of half-time, scored by Stephane N'Guema.

Debutants Niger, who caused a huge shock when they finished above three-time reigning champions Egypt and South Africa in qualifying, enjoyed a rare attack just before the break when Alhassane Issoufou and Boubacar Talatou saw close-range efforts blocked following a corner, but they found themselves 2-0 down moments later.

Eric Mouloungui did superbly to win back possession before laying the ball off to Charly Moussono, whose cross looked set to result in Aubameyang's second goal as the 22-year-old launched himself at the ball to power a header goalward.

He was denied by a brilliant save by Daouda, but from the follow-up N'Guema slotted into an empty net.

That proved to be the end of the scoring as Gabon held onto their advantage relatively comfortably in the second half, although they did need a brilliant diving save from Didier Ovono Ebang to keep out Boubacar Issoufou's 78th-minute header.

Gabon might also have increased their lead late but, after defensive error, Aubameyang fired just wide from the edge of the box while Daniel Cousin saw a dipping shot go just over.




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