Tunisia on Thursday ended Madagascar’s fairy-tale Africa Cup of Nations run in the quarter-finals with a 3-0 win over the tournament debutants in Cairo, while favorites Algeria edged the Ivory Coast on penalties in Suez.
Ferjani Sassi’s heavily deflected strike gave Tunisia the lead early in the second half at Al Salam Stadium and Youssef Msakni squeezed home a second on 60 minutes.
Naim Sliti added a third goal in stoppage-time to send Tunisia through to a semi-final showdown with Sadio Mane’s Senegal, with the Carthage Eagles into the last four for the first time since clinching their only title when they hosted the 2004 tournament.
“We’re the first to beat Madagascar. We had to do it to qualify and that proves the quality of this team,” Tunisia coach Alain Giresse said. “When you get to this stage, for which Tunisia was waiting for several years... We want to go as far as possible. We haven’t stolen it from anyone, we deserve it.”
Madagascar coach Nicolas Dupuis, whose contract was set to expire at the end of the competition, admitted Tunisia were simply too strong.
“I’m very proud of what the players have done since the start of the tournament. I tip my hat to them,” Dupuis said. “Today the step was too high. As for my future, it doesn’t matter much. I’m someone loyal and my priority is Madagascar.”
In Suez, favorites Algeria beat the Ivory Coast 4-3 on penalties to the relief of Baghdad Bounedjah and set up a semi-final against Nigeria.
The quarter-final finished 1-1 after extra-time with Sofiane Feghouli giving Algeria a 20th-minute lead that was canceled out by Jonathan Kodjia on 62 minutes.
In the shoot-out, Youcef Belaili struck the woodwork when he had a chance to clinch victory for Algeria, then Ivory Coast captain Serey Die hit the same post and his team were eliminated.
Forward Bounedjah missed a penalty in the second half and was visibly upset by his failure, fearing it would cost Algeria a first place in the last four since 2010.
“The match was very difficult as the Ivory Coast were compact, organized and waiting for mistakes from us,” Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi said. “My thoughts are with Youcef Atal after he came off in the first half with a shoulder injury. This is the only dark spot tonight. I think we are heading towards the end [of the tournament for him]. A player like him deserved to go into the next battle, against Nigeria.”
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