Group E wraps up on Wednesday with everything still to play for. Look ahead to a potentially dramatic conclusion with our South Africa vs Tunisia prediction and preview.

South Africa vs Tunisia: Pre-Match Facts

  • Although Tunisia have disappointed in this tournament, the Opta supercomputer makes them favourites for this game after winning 47.8% of the pre-match simulations. 
  • South Africa scored as many goals in their 4-0 victory over Namibia as they had in their previous seven group stage games at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations combined (W1 D1 L5).
  • South Africa are looking to win consecutive AFCON matches for the first time since they won their opening two games in 2000.
  • Tunisia sit bottom of Group E with just one point, needing a victory to give themselves any chance of progressing to the knockout stage for a fifth successive AFCON tournament, last failing to progress from their group in 2013.
  • South Africa are looking to reach the knockout stage in consecutive AFCON appearances (lost 2-1 to Nigeria in the 2019 quarter-finals) after progressing from their group just once in five tournaments between 2004 and 2015 (eliminated on penalties in the 2013 quarter-finals against Mali).
  • Tunisia have won just one of their last eight group games at the Africa Cup of Nations (D4 L3), beating Mauritania 4-0 in AFCON 2021.
  • Across the first two matchdays at AFCON 2023, only Zambia (14), Mozambique (14) and Tanzania (8) attempted fewer shots than Tunisia (15), with Youssef Msakni directly involved in 67% of them (six shots, four chances created).
  • In their last five group games at the Africa Cup of Nations (since 2019), South Africa have had 45 shots and scored five goals, with 64% of their attempts and all five goals coming against Namibia (12 shots, four goals on MD 2 this year and 17 shots, one goal in 2019), while they’ve had 16 shots and scored no goals in the other three games in this period.
  • South Africa have scored with 16.7% of their shots at AFCON 2023 (4/24), their best shot conversion rate in an edition on record (since 2010) and far more efficient than their 7.5% ratio in their last appearance in 2019 (3/40).

Match Preview

As underwhelming as Tunisia’s record at the Africa Cup of Nations was before this tournament began, they were firm favourites to top Group E and few would’ve predicted them being bottom heading into Matchday 3. That’s the reality, though; they must beat South Africa on Wednesday to have any chance of reaching the knockout stage.

Even though pre-tournament expectations for Tunisia weren’t especially high, they have been disappointing. A 1-1 draw with Mali on Matchday 2 was hardly emphatic but at least prevented an additional loss of dignity after they were beaten 1-0 in their opener by Namibia, among the least-fancied teams in the whole competition.

Tunisia vs Mali xG map

Either way, the fact the Eagles of Carthage were unable to beat Mali last time out leaves them in a precarious position. With one point from two games and third-placed Namibia on three, a draw simply won’t be enough for Tunisia to claw themselves off the foot of Group E. Anything other than a win and they’ll be heading home early.

They could certainly have picked more straightforward opposition for such a vital match, though Bafana Bafana’s own record at the AFCON in recent tournaments is by no means impressive. South Africa haven’t won successive games at the Africa Cup of Nations since 2000, so it’s fair to suggest Tunisia aren’t completely devoid of hope.

On Matchday 2, Hugo Broos’ men did what Tunisia couldn’t when confidently sweeping aside Namibia, running out 4-0 winners. An early Percy Tau penalty was followed by a Themba Zwane brace to put South Africa in complete control by half-time. The exciting Thapelo Maseko then rounded things off in the second half with his first goal for the senior side.

South Africa vs Namibia xg Race

That put South Africa in a far more comfortable position, though they too cannot afford to relax. While three points could be enough to qualify as one of the four best third-placed teams, they could yet finish bottom of the group if they lose and Namibia earn a point against Mali in the group’s other game.

It’s all still to play for, and that might just lead to a thrilling finale in Group E on Wednesday.

South Africa vs Tunisia Head-to-Head

South Africa and Tunisia are well acquainted with each other as this will be their fifth meeting at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Bafana Bafana prevailed in both of their knockout encounters: the 1996 final (2-0) and third-place match in 2000 (2-2 aet, 4-3 pens); meanwhile, Tunisia were victorious in their two group matches: 2006 (2-0) and 2008 (3-1).

In fact, ahead of this match, South Africa have only faced Morocco (five times) on more occasions in the Africa Cup of Nations.

South Africa vs Tunisia Prediction

South Africa vs Tunisia AFCON prediction Opta Analyst

Despite an unimpressive start to this tournament, Tunisia are considered the favourites for this clash, winning 47.8% of the Opta supercomputer’s 10,000 pre-match simulations.

Nevertheless, at 27.7%, South Africa won over a quarter of the simulations, meaning they shouldn’t necessarily be overlooked. The draw occurred 24.5% of the time.

Tunisia’s most-likely final group position is last place (57.4%), meaning the supercomputer clearly thinks they are fighting a losing battle in their attempts to stay in the tournament. South Africa, on the other hand, finish second and secure a place in the next round in 39.5% of the competition simulations.

As such, South Africa’s chances of going all the way have increased slightly since our pre-tournament predictions were published, though Tunisia’s have unsurprisingly dropped considerably.

Below are each team’s current, up-to-date chances of progression through AFCON 2023 according to the supercomputer.

South Africa vs Tunisia Squads

South Africa: Ronwen Williams, Ricardo Goss, Veli Mothwa, Siyanda Xulu, Tapelo Xoki, Khuliso Mudau, Mothobi Mvala, Nyiko Mobbie, Nkosinathi Sibisi, Terrence Mashego, Thapelo Morena, Grant Kekana, Themba Zwane, Teboho Mokoena, Sibongiseni Mthethwa, Thabang Monare, Aubrey Modiba, Oswin Appollis, Sphephelo Sithole, Jayden Adams, Thapelo Maseko, Elias Mokwana, Percy Tau, Evidence Makgopa, Iqraam Rayners, Zakhele Lepasa, Mihlali Mayambela. 

Coach: Hugo Broos

Tunisia: Mouez Hassen, Béchir Ben Saïd, Aymen Dahmen, Wajdi Kechrida, Yassine Meriah, Oussama Haddadi, Montassar Talbi, Ali Maâloul, Ali Abdi, Yan Valery, Hamza Jelassi, Naïm Sliti, Ellyes Skhiri, Bassem Srarfi, Sayfallah Ltaief, Hadj Mahmoud, Aïssa Laïdouni, Mohamed Ben Romdhane, Alaa Ghram, Houssem Tka, Hamza Rafia, Anis Ben Slimane, Youssef Msakni, Taha Khenissi, Elias Achouri, Haythem Jouini, Seifeddine Jaziri. 

Coach: Jalel Kadri

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