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Togo books quarterfinal place following Tunisia tussle

updated 4:10 PM EST, Wed January 30, 2013
Wahbi Khazri of Tunisia and Floyd Ama Ayite of Togo do battle during the Africa Cup of Nations clash in Nelspruit.
Wahbi Khazri of Tunisia and Floyd Ama Ayite of Togo do battle during the Africa Cup of Nations clash in Nelspruit.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Togo will face Burkina Faso in quarterfinal following 1-1 draw with Tunisia
  • Tunisia misses crucial late penalty which would have sent it through to last eight
  • Ivory Coast tops group following 2-2 draw against Algeria
  • Didier Drogba and Wilfried Bony help Ivory Coast come back from two goals down

(CNN) -- Togo booked its place in the quarterfinals of the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in seven attempts following a nervy draw with Tunisia in South Africa Wednesday.

With the game level at 1-1, Tunisia's Khalid Mouelhi had a glorious opportunity to win the tie with 15 minutes remaining when his side was awarded a penalty kick.

But having already scored from the spot earlier in the game to cancel out Serge Gakpe's opener for Togo, Mouehli failed to repeat the feat as Tunisia's bowed out.

The achievement comes three years after two members of the Togo squad were killed in a deadly machine attack in the oil-rich enclave of Cabinda before the 2010 Nations Cup.

Captain Emmanuel Adebayor, who hid under a seat when the Togo team bus came under fire from separatists, revealed the team would hold prayers for the pair which lost their lives

"I'm thinking of them," he told reporters. "We're going to take five minutes to pray for them at the hotel."

"This is our first qualification, I'm very happy for the team and my country, I can't even begin to imagine what's happening back home!"

Africa Cup of Nations 2013: The teams

Togo will now go on to face Burkina Faso in the last eight, leaving Tunisia coach Sami Trabelsi to reflect on his side's failings.

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Trabelsi told reporters in Nelspruit: "We did what we had to do, we dominated the play, but we lacked a bit of finishing.

"I'm not here to talk about the referee -- I'm here to talk about my team. Am I satisfied with the outcome? Not really."

Togo made the perfect start by taking the lead on 13 minutes when Emmanuel Adebayor's through ball sent Gakpe clear to fire home.

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With Tunisia needing to win the game to advance, Trabelsi's men fought back and deservedly drew level when Mouelhi converted from 12-yards following a foul on Esperance midfielder Hichri.

Tunisia continued to look for that elusive winner after the break, but only the crossbar denied Adebayor from heading Togo back in front with 21 minutes remaining.

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The Carthage Eagles were given a real lifeline on 75 minutes when South African referee Daniel Bennett pointed to the penalty spot following a foul on Saber Khalifa.

Mouelhi stood up to strike the kick, but his effort hit the left post as Togo held out for the draw.

"This is huge for Togo -- the first time they have qualified for the quarterfinals," Togo coach Didier Six told reporters.

"We were the little team in this group, and we've made it. I think there will be a big party in Lome tonight."

Zambia dumped out of Africa Cup of Nations

Ivory Coast

Meanwhile, tournament favorite Ivory Coast came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Algeria in Rustenburg.

Ivory Coast, which had already qualified for the last eight, will face Nigeria in the next round.

With his side already through to the next stage, coach Sabri Lamouchi made nine changes to the team to face an Algeria team without any chance of making the quarterfinals.

Ryad Boudebouz had a great early chance to give Algeria the lead but struck his seventh minute penalty against the post.

Algeria was awarded a second spot kick on 64 minutes and Sofiane Feghouli made no mistake before Hilal Soudani doubled his side's lead soon after.

But two goals in four minutes from Didier Drogba and Wilfried Bony saved embarrassment and ensured Ivory Coast finished the group stage unbeaten.

"I am proud of my boys because they refused to give up when two goals behind," Ivory Coast coach Lamouchi told reporters.

"I congratulate Algeria, who did not make it easy for us and are a team to watch in the future.

"The failure of all the north African teams to make the next round surprises me. I am most disappointed about the departure of Tunisia, which is where my family originates from."

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