On Monday when Ghana and Tunisia clash in the Round of 16 of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations, Black Stars coach, Kwasi Appiah, will seek to maintain a proud record against the North African side who will aim to end decades of dominance and also book a place in the quarter-finals.
The clash at the Ismailia Stadium will be the eighth AFCON clash between the two countries with five African titles between them, with the Tunisians still chasing their first victory over the four times champions.
In 1982 when Ghana won their fourth and last AFCON title in Libya, a young Kwasi Appiah was in the Black Stars squad that recorded a 1-0 victory over the Carthage Eagles in a Group A clash in Tripoli. Almost four decades later, Appiah will be leading Ghana as a coach to maintain a stranglehold over the 2004 African Champions for a place in the quarter-finals.
It will be a huge task for Tunisia coach, Alain Giresse, who must find the winning formula for his side whose best AFCON result against Ghana is a 1-1 draw recorded at the 1963 tournament in Accra.
Tunisia’s four wins over the Black Stars have come in only non-competitive games. They chalked up victories in international friendlies in 1985 (2-0), 1999 (2-0) and 2006 (2-0) in addition to winning 8-7 on penalties at a four-nation competition in 2003 after the match ended 2-2 in regulation time.
Apart from their 1-1 draw in 1963, Tunisia are yet to record a single victory over Ghana in the AFCON, and most importantly, Ghana’s last victory over the Carthage Eagle in 2012 was masterminded by five of the agents in the current team, including Captain Andre Ayew.
Seven years ago, Ghana’s Serbian coach, Goran Stevanovic, guided a side comprising Asamoah Gyan, Andre Ayew, Jordan Kwadwo Asamoah and John Boye to beat Tunisia 2-1 in the quarterfinals of the 2012 AFCON. Centre-back Jonathan Mensah was part of the squad.
John Mensah shot Ghana into the lead in the 10th minute but a sloppy defending allowed Saber Khlifa to score on the nick of half time but Andre Ayew’s 101st goal in extra time sealed the victory for Ghana.
It was a repeat of Ghana’s 2-1 victory over the Tunisians at the 1996 AFCON in South Africa with goals from captain Abedi Pele and Charles Kwablah Akonnor securing Ghana a vital group win. Ghana’s assistant coach, Ibrahim Tanko, and goalkeepers’ trainer, Richard Kingson, were part of Ghana’s squad handled by a Brazilian coach, Ismael Kurtz.
Two years later, Dutch coach, Rinus Israel, guided an Abedi-led Black Stars to defeat the North Africans 2-0 in a group match at the 1998 AFCON in Burkina Faso through Alex Nyarko’s eighth minute and Mohammed Gargo’s stoppage-time strikes.
The country’s first victory over Tunisia came at the 1965 AFCON when the Black Stars, coached by the legendary Charles Kumi Gyamfi, recorded a 3-2 victory, and four years later, Ghana handed the Tunisians a 1-0 defeat in the semi-final of the 1978 AFCON hosted in Ghana.