Final showdown between Tunisia and Algeria promises fireworks

  • Arab Cup concludes on Saturday after nine thrilling matchdays

  • Algeria and Tunisia to vie for the title

  • Qatar and Egypt in battle for third

After nine action-packed matchdays over the last two and a half weeks, the FIFA Arab Cup 2021™ comes to a conclusion this Saturday with the eagerly awaited meeting of Tunisia and Algeria at the Al Bayt Stadium.

Before the final gets underway, Qatar and Egypt will battle it out in the match for third place, with both sets of fans seeking consolation after their semi-final heartbreak on Wednesday.

Saturday 18 December (all times local)

Renewing acquaintances North African giants Tunisia and Algeria are familiar foes who crossed swords as recently as 11 June. The Desert Warriors prevailed on that occasion with goals from Riyad Mahrez, who is not here in Qatar, and Baghdad Bounedjah, who is expected to be available after suffering a muscle strain in the semi-final. Tunisia will be without the services of defender Yassine Meriah, who tore his cruciate ligament against Egypt. The loss is a big blow for coach Mondher Kebaier, as the 28-year-old defender was one of the mainstays of the Tunisian defence and ever present until the injury.

DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 15: Yassine Meriah of Tunisia leaves the pitch on a stretcher following an injury during the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021 Semi-Final match between Tunisia and Egypt at Stadium 974 on December 15, 2021 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Maddie Meyer - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Attacking flair En route to the final, both teams have played free-flowing and attacking football, capitalised on by their in-form strikers. Tunisia’s top scorer Seifeddine Jaziri has bagged four goals so far and captain Youssef Msakni two, while the talented young midfielder Hannibal Mejbri has been named man of the match in the Carthage Eagles’ last three outings. Les Fennecs are not missing any of their big names, with the lethal trio of Youssef Belaili, who shone against Morocco and Qatar, captain Yacine Brahimi and Baghdad Bounedjah all available. Between them they have contributed six goals - more than half of their team's tally of 11. For all their attacking flair, both teams have conceded four times in reaching the final, so we could well see goals at the Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday.

Race for the Golden Boot Seifeddine Jaziri wasted no time in staking his claim with a brace in Tunisia’s opening match against Mauritania, before doubling his tally with strikes against both UAE and Oman. Right behind him with one goal fewer is the Qatari Almoez Ali, who top-scored at both the 2019 AFC Asian Cup and the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup. Nine others have scored twice and, with only one match left for the four remaining teams, there is sure to be fierce competition for the coveted Golden Boot award.

Close encounter Egypt-Qatar has historically been an evenly balanced affair with only four wins in the history of this fixture. The last meeting between the pair was in 2013, when Al Annabi defender Abdelkarim Hassan scored the winner. Ayman Ashraf is unavailable for the Pharaohs with knee ligament damage, while the hosts will be without Pedro Miguel due to a hip injury, although neither team are short of defensive options to fill in.

The quotes

“It’ll be a close match because our opponents have played well throughout the tournament, but we’ve got to turn up and perform. We too are a special team.” Tunisia defender Mohamed Drager

“The final will be decided by small details. Both teams will do everything possible to win, and the team that makes its presence felt most on the pitch and is the more focused will take the trophy. We’ll prepare well for the game and continue to show determination to win this Arab Cup.” Algeria defender Djamel Benlamri