Madagascar vs Tunisia: Sliti calls for calm ahead of quarter-final with rank outsiders

Tunisia beat Ghana on penalties and now faces Madagascar in the AFCON quarterfinals, but Naim Sliti admits there is still work to be done.

Tunisia midfielder Naim Sliti   -  Getty Images

Africa Cup of Nations debutants Madagascar are not a team Tunisia should take lightly in the quarterfinals, according to Naim Sliti.

The Eagles of Carthage, who won the continental competition for the only time in 2004, have made it to the last eight without winning a game outright - their victory over Ghana in the last 16 only came via a penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw.

Tunisia's reward for eliminating one of the tournament heavyweight is a last-eight tie against surprise package Madagascar, which it is strong favourite to win.

But attacking midfielder Sliti insisted there is still plenty of room for improvement and he is not taking anything for granted.

"I think we reacted against Ghana after the poor group matches we played," he told Goal. "I knew we were going to bounce back. 

"We have to continue like that. We must not be carried away by this victory. It was difficult. We need to fix our mistakes, like what happened when we were leading Ghana 1-0. 

"We were playing too much at the back. You must not do that. We will continue with our preparation. There is a huge game ahead. By God's grace it shall be fine."

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Madagascar has defied the odds to make it this far in the competition, having defeated Democratic Republic of Congo on penalties in the last 16 after toppling a much-fancied Nigeria to finish first in Group B.

And with opponent Tunisia yet to impress in Egypt, Anicet Abel is confident Madagascar can prolong its dream run and possibly lift the cup.

"We are happy with the victory over DR Congo and it shows that we are capable of winning the Africa Cup of Nations," he said.

"Now that we have scaled the Congolese hurdle, we will work very hard for our next game. With our players and great staff, we'll do everything to go as far as we can."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Madagascar - Lalaina Nomenjanahary

Madagascar midfielder Lalaina Nomenjanahary celebrates after scoring against Nigeria.   -  Getty Images

 

Madagascar has scored seven goals in its four matches in Egypt and Nomenjanahary has played a direct role in two of its four most-recent efforts, netting one and setting up another.

Tunisia - Wahbi Khazri

Wahbi Khazri is a real threat from dead-ball situations.   -  Getty Images

 

Saint-Etienne winger Khazri failed to make a telling impact against Mauritania or Ghana, but he has scored two of Tunisia's last four goals in the Africa Cup of Nations.


KEY OPTA FACTS

- Madagascar is the first team to reach the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations in its first participation since Cape Verde in 2013.
- Tunisia will play its 10th AFCON quarter-final. It has failed to advance in its past five appearances at this stage.