Tunisia coach Georges Leekens has said today’s AFCON quarterfinal against host nation Equatorial Guinea in Bata is a final for his team.
Tunisia won the Nations Cup when they hosted in 2004, but ever since they have failed to go past the quarterfinals.
“For us, this is not a quarterfinal (versus Equatorial Guinea). It’s the final. When you look too far ahead, you often risk crashing out of a tournament,” said Belgian coach Leekens, who has only been in charge of the Carthage Eagles for 11 months.
“Once you reach the quarterfinals, you want to go even farther.
“I am a winner. The will to win has to be greater than the fear to lose.”
Equatorial Guinea have not yet lost an international match in the port city of Bata and the 35,000-capacity Estadio de Bata will be jammed with the fans cheering the home team toward an historic passage to the semi-finals of the competition.
“The whole of Equatorial Guinea was euphoric when they qualified for the last eight. The people were in heaven and they will want their team to continue going. But Tunisia also want to qualify. We are a modest team, but we also have ambitions,” said the 65-year-old coach.
“We have confidence in the referee and I hope everything will be fair.”
Meanwhile, Leekens has said the team’s only injury doubt goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha from Club Africain of Tunis has made a full recovery and will be available for selection on Saturday.