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Africa Cup of Nations Day 7 as it happened

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LATEST ACTION AS IT HAPPENS (ALL TIMES GMT)

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GROUP C:

Niger 1-2 Tunisia (FT)

Gabon 3-2 Morocco (FT)

By Stephen Fottrell

2125: The celebrations in the stadium were understandably frenzied from players and fans at the end, with bandaged-up Gabon defender Ebanega, letting out huge roars or delight. A fantastic effort and result from the Gabonese. This text probably sums up the admiration shared by African football fans everywhere to that amazing climax to that game - from Law in Nigeria: "Great Africans! Great Gabonese! Fantastic African football! I think every African will be proud of this." A fitting note to leave you on, on another breathless night in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. There's yet more tomorrow though, with Botswana meeting Guinea and the not-so-insignificant matter of Ghana taking on Mali, both in Group D, both in Franceville. Join us then, if your heart can take it!

2116: And as our texter says below, it's all about action and there is no shortage of it in this tournament. Or drama for that matter, particularly of the late variety. So Gabon are now through with co-hosts, Equatorial Guinea, and another big name falls. Morocco are out, along with Niger. The Moroccans improved tonight, but clearly the momentum and the Gods are with the co-hosts. How far can they go? Who knows at this rate, but that one's for tomorrow for the Gabonese, as they will, I'm sure, look to out-do their neighbours' celebrations tonight. Morocco are going home.

2109: Cosato Chumi, in Zurich texts: "Another 'surprise' which is not actually a surprise, because names don't matter. Morocco - another big name out, football is about action and not names."

2105: And this Nations Cup keeps delivering. After Equatorial Guinea's heroics on Wednesday night, now Gabon have also done the business, and how! Morocco looked comfortable enough, before Gabon piled on the pressure in the second half and scored two quick goals, including one beautiful strike from the sublime Aubameyang. Cousin's introduction made all the difference and he got in on the act after setting Aubameyang up for his first, quickly putting Gabon in front and their fans into dreamland. Morocco threatened to spoil the party and reintroduce the formbook with Kharjah's penalty, but just when it looked like that was that, another substitute Mbanangoye had his say with a brilliant match winning free-kick. Once more - wow!

2059: Wow, incredible, incredible finish to a fantastic game in the end. Must tell you about the goal right at the death. Substitute Bruno Zita Mbanangoye curled in a fantastic match-winning free kick with his right peg from the edge of the box to supply a breathless finish to the match and put Gabon through and send Morocco packing.

2057: FULL TIME! Gabon 3-2 Morocco

2056: GOAL! Gabon 3-2 Morocco

2054: Benatia very lucky not to see red there with a reckless challenge on Poko at the edge of the area, one more free kick for Gabon..

2053: And we're playing out five minutes of stoppage time, and it's flying by, probably too fast for Morocco.

2050: Morocco are back in it, and it's captain Houssine Kharjah once again, this time from the spot, with a coolly taken spot kick delivered low to Ovono's left, after a Gabonese handball for the penalty. And the stadium has gone absolutely silent in comparison to the manic noise of just minutes ago. Amazing stuff.

2048: Gabon 2-2 Morocco

2047: Morocco penalty!

2045: And there is no room for a breath as Gabon get a great chance to make it three with Madinda free just outside the six yard area but he fails to get over it and skies it. But Libreville is in dreamland for now. Ovono just loses it in his own box though, so this game is not over by any stretch.

2042: So, here's what happened in that incredible minute. Cousin nodded on strongly from a throw and Aubameyang steadied himself and lashed in a wonderful volley to bring the fans down onto the running track in celebration with the players. But just as the stewards were attempting to break that up, the place went wild once more when Aubameyang turned provider picking out Cousin in the middle of the area, and the former Rangers man swivelled well, scuffed the shot on his left but saw it trickle into the corner past a stranded Lamyaghri. Great drama.

2038: And just as I try to tell you about that incredible equaliser Daniel Cousin makes it two in a minute, as Gabon turn this game on its head, and Libreville goes wild. As Piers Edwards might say - OMG!

2037: GOAL! Gabon 2-1 Morocco

2036: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang brings the roof off the Stade De Lamitie with a delicious left-foot volley.

2034: GOAL! Gabon 1-1 Morocco

2032: Oh, a rebuff to Yeboah's lyrical stance earlier from an anonymous texter in the UK: "Yeboah doesn't know his African zoology. The Atlas Lion is the biggest lion species. Enough said." Any reply to that Yeboah?

2031: Mouloungui is just offside as his point-blank header is saved well in any case by Lamyaghri. Morocco make another change with Alioui coming on for Basser.

2028: Cousin in the thick of it once more as he tries to get on the end of a loose ball in the six yard area to no avail. Aubameyang is then penalised for what looked like a fair shoulder charge on El Kaddouri.

2025: QPR striker Adel Taraabt is on as a substitute once more, having also come off the bench against Tunisia, replacing Carcela.

2022: Gabon get another two free kicks just outside the final third, with the second aimed straight for Cousin's head, but he can't quite get anything on it at the far post. And Ebanega is back on with a new shirt and an impressive bandage.

2021: Gabon defender Remy Ebanega draws blood after getting a knock from Hadji. A new shirt should sort him out.

2019: Cousin again makes his significant presence felt as he nods on strongly for Mouloungui who darts forward, but there's no one on the end of his cross.

2016: Lamyaghri punches well to clear a floating ball into his area, and appears to pull up afterwards. But he's up again. Bit early for time-wasting, so he clearly must be uncomfortable. Must be.

2013: Belhanda picks up a needless yellow for a touchline tussle with Moussono, and the game getting tense now, as it was at the end of the first half, when the players exchanged pleasantries.

2010: The zip is taken out of the frenetic start to the second period, though, as Morocco slow it down well with a couple of stoppages. That's very much in their interest, obviously. Big improvement from the Moroccans here all round on Monday night's performance.

2007: A pacey start to the second half, and Cousin is straight into the action as Aubameyang breaks down the right with lightning speed, pulling it back for Cousin, who fires straight at Lamyaghri. Better from Gabon.

2003: And we're off again, Gabon getting us underway, and we've had two changes with the BBC's John Bennett spot on, as Gernot Rohr introduces former Hull City striker Daniel Cousin, and Noureddine Amrabat comes on for El Arabi for the Moroccans.

2000: Eddy, in LA, says: "Africa's 'Neymar' (Aubameyang) certainly is putting in a shift tonight and deserves a goal. These games have come alive and can't wait for the latter stages!" Thank you Eddy, I noticed the similarity between Aubameyang's haircut and the Brazilian ace's barnet too, but was met with silence in the office. Great minds, clearly, Eddy!

1959: Right just to let you know, we may have been just a little hasty in counting Niger out of the tournament altogether earlier, but such is the complicated nature of the rules. To clarify, then, at it stands, Niger will still have the slightest of lifelines if Gabon don't get anything out of this game, but all Gabon need is a point to definitely put Niger out. Clear? Marvellous. On we go, then!

1955: Half-time snapshot from the BBC's John Bennett in Stade De Lamitie, in Libreville: "Despite the fanatical support from 40,000 Gabon fans, Morocco are in full control here. Apart from the drumming band, it was all going a bit quiet in the lead-up to half-time. The co-hosts need a spark - perhaps from sub Daniel Cousin - in the second half. It's all going to plan for Eric Gerets, his changes have worked perfectly. But the Gabon fans are not losing hope just yet."

1950: And Gambian referee Bakary Gassama literally has to urge the players off the pitch as some of them square off at the end of the half. Morocco will be much the happier with that opening period, after their captain Houssine Kharjah put them ahead, with his second goal of the tournament. Gabon have got forward plenty but need to take their opportunities.

1947: HALF-TIME! Gabon 0-1 Morocco

1945: Gabon also getting in their fair share of challenges, though, to keep them in this game going into the break. Two minutes of added time at the end of the half.

1942: It's all a bit scrappy for now heading up to half-time, but credit to Morocco's defence, who are closing and charging down loose balls well.

1939: And Lamyaghri also living dangerously with a curious attempt at a clearance in his own box, which he is lucky not to be punished for.

1937: Gabon get yet another couple of free kicks around the box but they come to nothing once more. Morocco sailing very close to the wind indeed with some of these challenges. Referee issues a couple of warnings but no more cards - for now.

1933: Aubameyang showing off his pace with a surging run into the box to the byline, but the the ball is adjudged to have crossed the line as he gets his cross away. Tight call that one. But there was no one on the end of it anyway.

1930: Adil Hermach picks up a yellow card for a foul on Madinda, who needs treatment but continues. Gabon have two more free kicks in quick succession but Nguema can't quite pick out a teammate.

1928: And Gabon should have equalised straight away with Aubameyang finding himself unmarked but puts his header wide, that he really should have got on target.

1926: Captain Houssine Kharjah collects a pinpoint pass from Belhanda, sends his marker the wrong way, swapping to his left peg, and buries it coolly to Ovono's left. Advantage Morocco.

1924: GOAL! Gabon 0-1 Morocco

1922: Madinda tries to get a shot away but it's blocked, as Gabon struggle to get into Morocco's final third for any meaningful spell.

1920: Samuel, in Uganda, texts: "If Chamakh plays then Gabon will be playing against 10-man Morocco. He has become an under performer." He's on the bench Samuel, but am sure many in Morocco would agree that he's due a good game. He is lacking in match experience this season, though, at Arsenal.

1918: Good defending there from Gabon, as they played the offside trap perfectly with El Arabi prowling.

1917: Eric Gerets is clearly unhappy with a couple of the challenges going in on his men, and let's the fourth official know in no uncertain terms.

1915: And at the other end Eric Mouloungi can't quite reach Nguema's free kick delivery from the right.

1913: Good Moroccan opportunity wasted by Michael Basser, as he finds himself in space on the right, with men lining up in the box, but blasts wide at the near post. Wrong choice.

1911: Andre Poko goes in with the kind of two-footed lunge that would see him off in the English Premier League, but nothing, not even a glance from the referee here. One of a couple of meaty challenges so far.

1908: Nguema earns a free kick well outside the box for Gabon, which Madinda delivers straight into Lamyaghri hands.

1907: Gabon get forward for the first time with Mouloungi looking to punish some sloppiness in the Moroccan defence, but unable to create a clear-cut opportunity.

1905: Youssef Hadji trying to create something early doors for Morocco, who have started the sharper here. Hadji had a couple of horrible misses after coming on as a sub on Monday. Must do better, was doubtless the feedback he received from his coach Eric Gerets.

1902: Huge roars going up all around the stadium with every early touch, the home crowd very much up for this. It's a high-tempo start once again to this one, as it's been in most of the group games so far.

1900: And we're off, bang on time on Libreville, with Gabon getting us underway.

1859: It will be interesting to see where that Morocco attacking threat comes from tonight, with Taraabt, Chamakh and Bossoufa, who was at the heart of many of their moves on Monday, all on the bench. No pressure on the shoulders of Youssef El Arabi, then.

1856: No sign of Gabon's first lady Sylvia Bongo tonight, who was very animated indeed in the stands during Monday night's game, you may remember. Terrific atmosphere all the same.

1853: And here come the co-hosts in yellow and Morocco in red to a raucous atmosphere inside a packed Stade De Lamitie.

1852: So with just minutes to go John also reports from inside the Stade De Lamitie: "Now for the main event. Great atmosphere. Fans on their feet, all in green and yellow, cheering replays of Gabon leaving their bus." Now that's popularity for you, replays of disembarking from the bus!

1849: Our man in Libreville, John Bennett, was talking to Gabon captain Didier Ovono in the lead-up to this game, who told him he had played Morocco twice and beat them twice. That's an encouraging sign for the home side. Morocco coach Eric Gerets, meanwhile, said his side's "backs are against the wall" and they may have to "take risks".

1845: So ahead of kick-off to the texts we go, and some very lyrical thoughts indeed ahead of this one, from Yeboah, a Ghanaian in Finland: "Deadly lions are reared in the forest and so are panthers but not on the Atlas mountains. This is just testament to the fact that Les Pantheres of Gabon will devour the toothless Atlas Lions of Morocco." Yeboah, there's nothing I can add to that. Nothing!

1840: Gabon coach Gernot Rohr has kept faith with the side that opened their campaign with a 2-0 win against Niger, naming an unchanged side. Defender Moise Brou Apanga is fit after missing the victory over Niger with a muscle injury, but is named on the bench.

1837: So the Morocco line-up showing four changes there from their opening defeat to Tunisia, and it looks like Oussama Assaidi, who was struggling with an Achilles tendon injury, has not recovered in time to start, he is on the bench though, as is Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh, who had a bout of food poisoning this week. Mbark Boussoufa is also relegated to the bench, replaced by Mehdi Francois Carcela, with Nordin Amrabat replaced up front by Youssef El Arabi. QPR's Adel Taraabt is on also on the sidelines, as he was on Monday.

1832: Andthe Morocco line-up: 1-Nadir Lamyaghri; 2-Michael Chretien, 5-Mehdi Benatia, 3-Badr El Kaddouri, 4-Ahmed Kantari; 13-Houcine, Kharjah, 6-Adil Hermach, 10-Younes Belhanda, 9- Youssef El Arabi, 19- Mehdi Francois Carcela, 20- Youssef Hadji

1830: The teams are just in. Gabon line-up for you first: 1-Didier Ovono; 3-Edmond Mouele, 4-Remy Ebanega, 5-Bruno Ecuele Manga, 22-Charly Moussonou; 18-Cedric Moubamba, 14-Levy Madinda, 15-Andre Biyogo Poko; 7-Stephane Nguema, 11-Eric Mouloungui, 9-Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

1824: They will have to overcome the wounded Atlas Lions first, who will be expected to bounce back in convincing fashion after losing to neighbours and rivals Tunisia on Monday.

1822: But the Panthers will hope to avoid any of that this time, while they will also hope to emulate the heroics of fellow co-hosts Equatorial Guinea by knocking out a well-established Nations Cup side and progress to the last eight at just the second hurdle.

1819: One team who know the head-to-head rule all too well are co-hosts Gabon, who suffered at the hands of the rule two years ago in Angola, when they celebrated, thinking they had qualified for the quarter-finals, only to be snagged by it. South Africa fans also know the pain that it can cause too. Don't go there, I hear South African readers reply.

1815: So, just to recap on what that all means for Niger. Well put simply, they're out, due to Caf's head-to-head rule, after losing to Gabon, and now Tunisia, who are ahead of them in the table. Tunisia, of course are top of Group C - for now.

1813: Thank you to Piers Edwards for guiding us through yet more late drama in another fascinating match at this year's Nations Cup.

By Piers Edwards

1806: Well, that's it from me for today. A well-earned (I like to think!) day off tomorrow so I'll join you again on Sunday. In the meantime, and taking you all the way through to tonight's final whistle, here's Stephen Fottrell.

1803: Chris in Nairobi, Kenya, has also texted in to +44 77 86 20 20 08. "Great football, great talent. I think this might be one of best Nations Cups I've ever watched. Senegal, Burkina & Niger played really well but luck wasn't on their side. Am sorry they are out". I would agree with you there Chris. This has been a great Nations Cup so far - and long may it continue. Good football, much better than in some tournaments of previous years, and some great team displays too. And unlike Senegal, but like Burkina Faso, Niger can count themselves unlucky to be out after just two games.

1801: Bash, a Tunisia fan, has been back in touch as well. "Surely Darragi had an impact on the last 20 minutes of the game. Knowing the temperature and humidity out there, I could not ask for much more of the players - we lacked pace today, but I'm happy with 3 points! Sorry for Niger though, and best of luck to them."

1759: Well, while Nigeriens will be heart-broken by that defeat, so too is one Ghanaian who - like many of you - has become enamoured by Niger forward Moussa Maazou. Great name and skills to match. Yeboah again. "Oh no! This is heartbreaking! My Moussa is gone! I pray Tunisia meets Ghana in the quarters so that I can have my sweet revenge!"

1755: Well, that was not easy for the 2004 champions and Niger showed the qualities that enabled them to qualify for these finals. At times, they were the better team but they paid for missing their chances. Youssef Msakni profited from some slack defending to open the scoring with four minutes gone, before William Tonji Ngounou levelled things up before the break, only for Issam Jemaa to score a barely-deserved winner right at the death - the 90th minute - as he took advantage of further slack defending from Niger. A cruel blow but Tunisia won't care - they are top of Group C with six points - while Niger, for all their efforts, are pointless and out of the competition. A harsh lesson for them to absorb.

1755: FULL-TIME Niger 1-2 Tunisia

1753: Tunisia hit the crossbar. Ball breaks to Darragi who flicks the ball up before firing a half-volley at goal which hits the underside of the bar, bounces down just a yard or so from the line, before being hacked clear.

1751: Tunisia threaten again but Kassaly blocks a good hard strike across him. In the stands, Tunisian fans are understandably delirious. Jimmy Bulus is off for Niger, hobbling off as he goes, and Issoufou Alhassane comes on. This result is harsh on Niger but did they show their inexperience?

1749: This is not what Niger deserved but their defence goes AWOL right at the wrong moment. Issam Jemaa, who has done little since coming on, is played onside but he still has work to do, cutting inside onto his left foot, past Chicoto, and firing into the back of the net from a central position eight yards out.

1749: GOAL! Niger 1-2 Tunisia

1748: Tunisia are forcing the play late on. Winning a series of free-kicks. Great ball in and Jemal is furious with himself, shaking his hands back in forth in front of his face, as he fails to direct a header on target from 8 yards out.

1748: Ghanaian Yeboah from Finland again. "Oh dear, it will be intriguing to see Niger qualify. It will present me with the chance to see how the Black Stars' back four will cope with 'my' Moussa - can't wait!"

1746: Another break in play after Yacouba receives treatment and while Niger are threatening on the counter, Tunisia are looking more dangerous from set-pieces. Into the 87th minute - does either side deserve to win this?

1744: Corner to Tunisia as the Carthage Eagles come forward. Was that Abdennour offering up a prayer there? Much better from Tunisia as the ball drops to Ammar Jemal who swivels to strike hard at goal from 8-10 yards but Yacouba puts in another terrific block.

1743: Regular captain Idrissa Laouli is on for Boubacar, and immediately collects the armband.

1742: Moussa Maazou threatens again but despite finding himself in an excellent position just 10 yards from goal, another side-footed effort lacks power and dribbles towards Mathlouthi. Shortly after, Maazou springs the offside trap with an excellent run onto Kamilou's pass but the linesman gets it wrong and calls him off. It had opened up there. Poor decision.

1740: Better from Tunisia who win another corner, which fails to test Kassaly.

1738: Niger with free-kick 30 yards from goal. Abdoul Karim hits, very ambitiously, straight at goal but though he gets good contact and beats the wall, his low swerving effort is straight into the arms of a grateful Mathlouthi. Ten minutes to go.

1736: Great chance for Tunisia but terrific block from Niger as well, as Chicoto (I think) hurls himself into the air to block an eight-yard strike. Great chance, even better defending - however unorthodox it might have been.

1731: The marauding Maazou is away again and, with great vision, flicks the ball to Boubacar, who has come in from the right flank but he can't keep his left-footed strike down from inside the D.

1729: First Niger change of the match. Daouda Kamilou comes on for William Tonji Ngounou, who will never forget this day for he has the honour of having scored his country's first ever goal at the Africa Cup of Nations - and that's a record he will treasure for life, I'm sure.

1727: Into the final quarter and still the Nigeriens are making Tunisia look ordinary. After their first goal in Nations Cup history, can the Mena win their first point(s) today as well?

1726: Final change from Trabelsi as Yassine Chikhaoui comes off after a disappointing display and Sami Allagui, of Mainz in Germany, is on.

1723: Tunisia hit the post from 25 yards, with a strike from Aymen Abdennour that lacks any real conviction, before Maazou instantly breaks free at the other end, powering his way through again only for Mathlouthi to come out to smother.

1720: Just as the clock clicks past the hour mark, Msakni goes on another run and once again the Niger defence backs off. Not for the first time today, he tries to bend it into the far corner from the left-hand inside channel - but he can't guide his strike inside the far post.

1718: "Could it be that a Ghanaian fan is handling the text messages for the BBC? Since I tipped Gabon to win the trophy, and not Ghana, there's been no mention of it on the web page. Henry from Ghana". Certainly not Henry! It's just I'm a little busy with watching the game and writing this commentary, so I'm afraid all texts don't make it on...

1716: Good goalkeeping from Daouda to come out and smother the danger as Jemaa tries to latch onto a fine slide pass from the Tunisian midfield. Not much in it though and if Jemaa had got a touch beforehand, that could have been a decision for the referee.

1714: Some of Tunisia's play is really lacklustre, but every time Youssef Msakni is on the ball they look a different proposition. He currently plays for Tunis side Esperance but aged just 21, this lad is surely set for a brighter future in the European game. Excellent ball skills and good footballing brain to boot.

1713: If Harry in Hull was a Premier League manager, I think he would already have bid for Niger striker Moussa Maazou. "Maazou is my new favourite player, get him in the Premier League. He's the Usain Bolt of football". Do you agree? If so, get in touch on +44 77 86 20 20 08.

1712: Yellow card for Tunisia's Mejdi Traoui.

1711: Corner to Tunisia as Jemaa makes an instant impact. Khaled Khrobi's delivery floats harmlessly to the back post and the danger is cleared.

1709: Well, Bash will be a happy man (see 1628). Because Oussama Darragui is finally on, and Dhaouadi is off. Credit has to be given to Niger to force Tunisia coach Sami Trabelsi to play his cards early, with two substitutions already made as he looks to win this Group C match. Nothing between the sides at the moment.

1708: A break in play as Tonji Ngounou, Niger's goalscorer, receives treatment for a knock. Quiet start to the second half.

1705: The second half is underway and Tunisia have played their ace in Jemaa. What did Trabelsi say at half-time though - and did he devise any plan to stop Maazou, who's instantly involved again? Yeboah, a Ghanaian based in Finland, has texted +44 7786 202 008 to say "It is just refreshing to see how the 'minor' Menas of Niger are taming the Carthage Eagles. Good for African soccer. Anyway, for this game, my heart has fallen for Maazou, simply a handful".

1703: The teams are back out on the pitch, and Tunisia are set to be given a major lift. Because Issam Jemaa, who was believed to have been ruled out of the group stages with injury , is coming on. This is a big boost for the Carthage Eagles. Chermiti is off. Is this a gamble from Trabelsi, or has Jemaa fully recovered? Meanwhile, Niger fans are offering up prayers for the fortunes of their team.

1655: Half-time snapshot from John Bennett inside the Stade de l'Amitie. "Inspired by their star man Moussa Maazou, Niger have looked a completely different team today. Tunisia skipper Karim Haggui can't cope with the striker and the team is rattled. Niger are 45 minutes away from history and their fans are having a party behind the Tunisia goal."

1648: The referee blows for half-time and we're all set for an absorbing second half. The Niger players gather for a huddle and they can be really pleased with their display so far. Largely toothless in their first game of the tournament when losing tamely to Gabon, the Mena are much-improved today. Maazou has looked threatening whenever he is on the ball and Tunisia have ridden their luck at times.

1646: Another odd decision as the dreadlocked Mohamed Chicoto wrestles Dhaouadi to the ground, but the Tunisian is penalised instead. How on earth was that not a Niger foul?!

1644: Was that a penalty? Niger break free, Maazou cuts inside Hagui who puts his arm across the Niger frontman and brings him down. Just pushes him over. That looked a clear spot-kick, but the Zambian ref had a look and decided against it. Shortly after, Niger captain Abdoul Karim gose into the book. Two minutes of added time.

1642: Four minutes to go to the break. A far more open and entertaining game than I was expecting, I must be honest.

1638: Haruna in Bahrain would seem to be a Black Stars fan. "Shame to all those who said Senegal would win the Nations Cup. Shameless Lions - not Teranga Lions! Black Stars of Ghana for glory - GO GHANA GO BLACK STARS." So that's fairly clear who he's backing! Ghana are next in action tomorrow when they take on Mali in their second Group D match in Franceville.

1636: Second corner of the match to Niger as Mohamed threatens down the left flank. In go the big men, but the ball is headed out only as far as Abdoul Karim, who is today's Niger captain, but he wastes the ball as he fires a volley very, very high and over. Didn't catch it at all. Momentum gone?

1632: Still Niger threaten. Boubacar comes inside and from just a yard inside the box, he hits the post. Terrific low effort with his left peg that clips the outside of the post. Not sure the keeper touched it but it's a corner anyway.

1630: Maazou breaks clear of the Tunisian defence once again as though they are not there. Just bursts through with real power and beats the keeper but also the post as his side-footed effort rolls wide. It looked in for a moment as the goal gaped but rolled a foot wide. Hagui just can't live with the Niger frontman at the moment. He's pacy and Hagui can't be enjoying this.

1628: Bash has been back in touch. "Piers, I can tell you M'sakni is good but we are still missing his buddy "Darragi" Both can link together and they like this type of game. All together, it's a young team with some skills. Hopes are there but not many expectations really!". Yes indeed. Oussama Darragui, the highly-rated playmaker, is conspicuous by his absence. Big things expected from the 24-year-old in the years to come.

1624: Karim Hagui reacts angrily after being hauled to the ground by the marauding Maazou as both players tussle for the ball deep inside the Tunisian half. A sign of the tensions out there. Tunisia wouldn't have expected this comeback after taking such an early lead, but we have a game on at the moment and Niger are growing into this.

1622: Midway through the first half and Niger are holding their own, even if they still have to weather some dangerous Tunisia attacks. But they've shown in this opening quarter that they can catch the Tunisians at the back. In the dug-out, Rolland Courbis is patrolling and according to John Bennett, the Frenchman appears to be running the show today - rather than Harouna Doula, the coach who qualified Niger for these finals against all expectations.

1619: Tunisia centre-back Karim Hagui rises high to power a deep free-kick over the bar. Rose well but just couldn't get on top of it. Hagui's the only player in the side who contested the 2004 final, which they won 2-1 against Morocco.

1617: Bash has texted in from Cork, Ireland. "GO GO GO TUNISIA!! After the revolution and with all what is going on, we need football to give us joy, happiness and hope. Victory for Tunisia - Inchallah". Bash, I can only imagine you are pinning many of your hopes on Msakni, who's just fired over again from an identical position to a few minutes ago (see 1615). He clearly favours his right foot and the spectacular perhaps.

1616: At the other end, Maazou has another great chance for Niger. Played in by Yacouba from the halfway line, he's in on goal, albeit from an angle, but blazes over from just 8 yards out. They are struggling to live with his power and pace.

1615: Msakni, the goalscorer, has another pop at goal, opening his body to try to curl across Niger keeper Kassaly and into the top-right hand corner - but he's just a yard or so wide.

1612: Well, what a start, especially for Ngounou, who was brought in to start today's match for Niger. He took his goal well, but that was poor play from Mathlouthi who tried to argue his case with the referee, who looked on distinctly unimpressed.

1608: Terrible error from Tunisia goalkeeper Mathlouthi but Niger won't care as they score their first goal ever at the Nations Cup. Mathlouthi fails to bounce a high ball, which then spins back, and instead of catching he can only spill it into the path of William Tonji Ngounou who heads a looping ball into an empty net.

1608: GOAL! Niger 1-1 Tunisia

1606: Well, Msakni is tying the Nigerien defence up in knots and they just can't get near him. Another run goes across the box and finds Zouhair Dhaouadi who cuts in on his left foot outside the box and drills over from 20 yards.

1603: Lightning strikes twice. Youssef Msakni shows terrific feet to slalom his way into the box before side-footing into the bottom right-hand corner. For all the deft footwork, no Nigerien defender came to close him down - very strange after his mazy run and goal against Morocco - while Daouda Kassaly in the Niger goal got a very soft hand on the ball. Just four minutes gone and Niger have given themselves a mountain to climb. Don't forget, they have not scored a goal outside of their own capital during this entire Nations Cup campaign.

1603: GOAL! Niger 0-1 Tunisia

1601: Just over 80 seconds gone and what a chance for Moussa Maazou. Simple ball over the top frees the Niger striker with only the goalkeeper to beat as he charges in on goal from 25 yards, but his first touch is horribly heavy and spills all the way to a grateful Aymen Mathlouthi in the Carthage Eagles goal.

1600: We're underway in Libreville as Niger - nicknamed the Mena (local dialect for goal, I am safely assured) - go in search of their first ever goal and point at the Nations Cup.

1559: The referee is Janny Sikazwe from Zambia.

1556: The Nigeriens - who are tournament debutants, don't forget - all kneel in a huddle on the pitch, while a Tunisian fan holds up a placard predicting a 2-0 win for the Carthage Eagles. Niger all in white today, while Tunisia are all in red.

1553: So it looks like Moussa Maazou, the striker who wears number 2 for Niger, will be captaining the debutants today in the place of Laouali Idrissa. The anthems are over and it's lucky for the Tunisian players that they don't have to sing for a living. Not the most tuneful let's say.

1550: John Bennett is inside the Stade de l'Amitie, where the teams are coming out, for the BBC today. "Sunny and very hot today but lots of cloud about - maybe some rain later - hopefully not on the scale of Bata. The beautiful new pitch brought over from South Africa is already starting to look a bit patchy after Monday's matches." He's also reporting that there are plenty of seats, which there certainly won't be in just over three hours time when the hosts are in action for the second time.

1546: Tunisia coach Sami Trabelsi has made just the two changes, which seem conservative in comparison. Sami Allagui and Saber Khelifa drop to the bench with Youssef Msakni, who really impressed after coming on against Morocco (and not just because of his fine goal), and striker Amine Chermiti coming in.

1542: Well, let's start with the Niger team news because coach Harouna Doula, assisted by Frenchman Rolland Courbis no doubt , has rung the changes - making five in all. Out go Abdoul Kader, Boubacar Djibo Talatou, Sulliman Mazadou, Issoufou Talatou and Laouali Idrissa. The latter is the Niger captain but not for the first time at this tournament, a coach has not been afraid to drop his skipper (Senegal coach Amara Traore did the same). In their places come the following five: Jimmy Bulus, Harouna Olivier Bonnes, Dankwae Kofi, William Tonji Ngounou and Yacouba Syydou Ali. Niger are without teenager Amadou Moutari of course after the 18-year-old broke his leg less than 10 minutes into his Nations Cup debut.

1539: The line-ups...

Niger: 16-Daouda Kassaly; 5-Jimmy Bulus, 13-Mohamed Chicoto, 18-Koffi Dankwa, 23-Mohamed Soumaila; 3-Abdoul Karim Lancina, 8-Olivier Bonnes, 17-William Tonji Ngounou, 14-Issoufou Boubacar; 21-Yacouba Ali, 2-Moussa Maazou

Tunisia: 16-Aymen Mathlouthi; 20-Aymen Abdennour, 3-Karim Haggui, 2-Bilel Ifa, 5-Ammar Jemal; 8-Khaled Korbi, 14-Mejdi Traoui, 9-Yassine Chikhaoui, 15-Zouhair Dhaouadi; 23-Amine Chermiti, 7-Youssef Msakni

1536: Yes, Niger have it all to do today. Well-beaten by the Gabonese on the opening day of Group C games, with the co-hosts winning 2-0. Meanwhile, Tunisia impressed in a 2-1 defeat of bitter rivals Morocco - following which the Tunisians revealed T-shirts in support of 2004 Nations Cup-winning hero Zied Jaziri, who is now behind bars. It's a fascinating story and you can read it here.

1533: Of course, don't forget to text in your thoughts on today's - or any other - action at this year's Africa Cup of Nations. It's been quite a tournament so far, with Senegal (Group A) and Burkina Faso (Group B) already out. I can't say I have much too sympathy for the Senegalese after the haphazard fashion in which they approached their games, particularly at the back, whereas the Burkinabe can count themselves pretty unfortunate. They were right in last night's game against Ivory Coast and could have levelled things up if Moumouni Dagano had directed a late header across goal rather than against the crossbar. Shortly after, the Stallions scored an own goal and that was that. Will Niger and, more surprisingly, Morocco also go out of the tournament today after both lost their opening games?

1530 GMT: So, two rounds of games have gone in Groups A and B, and we already know two of the eight quarter-finals - namely, co-hosts Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast. Will anyone from Group C join them today? First up, it's Niger against Tunisia, followed by the other co-hosts, Gabon, in action against Morocco tonight.



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see also
Niger v Tunisia
27 Jan 12 |  African
Gabon v Morocco
27 Jan 12 |  African
Jaziri support splits Tunisia
26 Jan 12 |  African


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