Deo Gracia Bassinga’s hat-trick wasn’t enough to take his nation to the semi-final of the 2023 TotalEnergies U20 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) as the young Carthage Eagles of Tunisia soared higher.
The quarter-final clash at the Cairo International Stadium produced six goals and penalty shoot-outs to determine the winner and Africa fourth 2023 U20 FIFA World Cup participant.
The suspense filled thriller produced just what fans signed up for as both teams produced in 120 minutes, before the penalty shootout gave Tunisia a world cup berth after 38 years.
Congo had been the better side in the first half opening scores at the 25th minute thanks to a side foot kick by Deo Gracia Bassinga. A joy that will be short lived as Jibril Othmen will respond 12 minutes later, with a superbly executed strike for Tunisia .
The game will drag on to the last minutes of the first-half with Soussou’s goal ruled out for foul on the Tunisian defender.
Back into the second half with a motivated Tunisian front line out to test Maillon Makoundou. Ghaith Ouahabi header was disallowed for foul.
Substitute Samy Chouchane will come to hunt Congo for their lack of seriousness at the defence with an assist from 19-year-old Adam Garreb.
A short lived joy again as Bassinga again worked the magic, bringing the score line to 2-2, 10 minutes to stoppage time.
The game ended on a 2-2 score in regular time, forcing the contest into prolongation.
The Referee awarded an extra time penalty after consultation with VAR over a handball. Bassinga, 20, converted to register a hat-trick.
His 102minute strike will seem like the match winner for Congo, but Ali Saoudi 199th goal sent the game to penalty shootout.
Captain Davarel Diambomba Mouandza 7th strike for Congo went over the bar while Mohamed Aziz Abida slotted his penalty into the far right to send Tunisia to the semi-final of the competition.
Tunisia will face undefeated Senegal in the semi-final on Monday while The Gambia are up against Nigeria.
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