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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 February, 2004, 17:59 GMT
One of the best

By Farayi Mungazi
BBC Sport in Tunis

Bouazizi and Badra hold up the Cup of Nations
Bouazizi and Badra with the Cup of Nations
Football pundits have a habit of grading big matches such as cup finals in the same way film critics like to classify Hollywood movies, as blockbusters or turkeys.

The general consensus among the BBC's team of experts is that Saturday's African Cup of Nations decider between Tunisia and Morocco lies at the fringe of the former category.

Whilst the Atlas Lions were crowned African champions in 1976, the Carthage Eagles went into the final as the only major North African country yet to win the continent's biggest prize.

It was a very good game but definitely not a classic
Durosimi Thomas
But every dog, they say, must have his day and most emphatically Saturday, 14 February 2004, belonged to Tunisia and their French coach Roger Lemerre.

"I thought it was a good final," said Martin Davies, who has covered the showpiece of African football for the BBC since the 1992 tournament in Senegal.

Davies added: "In my view this was the best final since Nigeria beat Zambia ten years ago."

Undeterred by the absence of their suspended captain Khaled Badra, Tunisia atoned with a goal in each half to win the first ever all-North African final.

"For me the individual performance of the match came from Santos and I think the Tunisians deserved to win a fairly good final," said Mohammed Fajah-Barrie.

There were numerous reasons for Morocco's defeat, not least a goalkeeper who was haunted by hesitancy and uncertainty throughout the match.

Indeed, if the 2004 African Cup of Nations is to linger in the minds of those present, it will be for the manner in which Khalid Fouhami spilled the ball onto the path of a grateful Zaid Jaziri for the winning goal.

"It was a very good game but definitely not a classic, and the title was decided on one of the worst goalkeeping mistakes you will ever see," was Durosimi Thomas' verdict.

Mohammed Allie, another BBC Nations Cup veteran, said Tunisia deserved to win their first African title.

"Morocco were let down by their defence but both teams played some good football and it was a very entertaining final to watch."

The much-travelled Mark Gleeson, although generally impressed by the standard of football on display, was not altogether pleased with the game's closing stages.

He said: "Tunisia's time-wasting tactics almost spoiled the game. This wasn't a dramatic final but Lemerre made some bold moves to carry the day."





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