2023 AFCON: Hamza Rafia salvages a draw for Tunisia against Mali

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Tunisia claimed their first point in Africa Cup of Nations Group E as Hamza Rafia’s strike secured a 1-1 draw with Mali in Korhogo.

The 2004 champions, looking to bounce back from a shock 1-0 loss to Namibia in their opener, fell behind in the 10th minute via Lassine Sinayoko’s second goal of the tournament before hitting back through Rafia 10 minutes later.

While Jalel Kadri’s third-placed team get off the mark, Eric Chelle’s Mali top the group with four points, having beaten South Africa 2-0 in their first match.

Tunisia threatened in the opening few moments as Sheffield United’s Anis Ben Slimane’s curling free-kick from the left was punched away by goalkeeper Djigui Diarra.

Mali then grabbed the lead with what was their first real attack, Sinayoko collecting the ball from Kamory Doumbia, turning, squeezing past two men as he advanced into the box and drilling a low shot that went in off the far post to add to his goal against South Africa.

As Tunisia sought a swift reply captain Youssef Msakni’s header was intercepted on the line by Kiki Kouyate, and two minutes later they were level when Ali Abdi’s cutback teed up a Rafia strike, with Diarra getting a touch but unable to stop the ball going in.

The closing stages of the first half saw Doumbia shoot off-target, before Ben Slimane and Abdi did the same at the other end.

After the break, Bechir Ben Said did well to turn a Doumbia drive around the post and Sinayoko then failed to take two good chances in quick succession, missing the target on each on occasion.

Tunisia substitute Sayfallah Ltaief subsequently saw a strike blocked by Sikou Niakate and Tottenham’s Yves Bissouma, having also come off the bench, fired a free-kick wide late on as the sides shared the points.

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