Yurary Poulsen of Denmark against Stephen Ward of Ireland. (Reuters Photo)
TUNIS, November 12 (Reuters): Tunisia booked their place in next year’s World Cup finals after securing a point from a goalless draw at home against neighbours Libya on Saturday.
Tunisia finished on 14 points in Group A of the African preliminaries, one ahead of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who fell short despite a 3-1 win over Guinea in Kinshasa at the same time.
Unbeaten Tunisia, who have been to four previous World Cup finals and were the first African country to win a game at the finals in 1978, were denied a fifth win in six group matches as Libya’s goalkeeper Mohamed Nashnush made a number of key saves.
Diving saves kept Youssef Msakni, Anice Badri and Ghilane Chaalani from scoring as Nashnush proved a one-man roadblock.
Tunisia threw everything into attacking in the closing stages to try and force a win in front of their home fans.
Libya avoided last place in the group with the draw as they advanced to four points with Guinea staying on three.
Libya had been forced to play all of their home games at neutral venues, including Tunisia, because of a FIFA ban on internationals in the country, where the security situation is judged unsafe for visiting teams.
Denmark, Ireland tie
Denmark on its home turf failed to overcome Irish defenders with a bumbling performance in a game without brilliance in which the visitors got the result they wanted — playing the second leg of the 2018 World Cup qualifying Round 2 back home in Dublin.
The game didn’t stick to the script: Ireland fell back to its own territory and set up a tough defence against the Danes’ attacks, closing spaces, defending the 0-0 tie like a treasure and waiting to see what moves Denmark would make, since the latter maintained almost full possession of the ball, reports Efe.
Denmark manager Hareide repeated the attack strategy that had thrashed Poland, with Cornelius placed to make the most of his physical superiority but without much luck. The Irish weren’t impressed and knew how to isolate Eriksen, the Danes’ brain and the team’s top scorer.
But there was too much in the way of direct attacks and the Danes lacked the patience to outmanoeuver an Irish team without an excess of talent but very disciplined and determined.
Even so, Denmark had three very clear chances in the first half but was unable to convert any of them.
Things got no better for Denmark in the second half. Added to the difficulties of breaking through the rival defense were errors brought on by too much hurrying and a lack of ideas. Only Eriksen and Sisto came close to structuring scoring plays, but luck was not with them.
For the Danes the game went from bad to worse and Ireland looked quite comfortable, though without shining much on the attack.
Even bringing on Bendtner, the Danes’ most trusted scorer over the past decade, could not prove to be a game-changer. Denmark was a study in impotence and the game ended in a goalless tie.