EBEBIYIN,Equatorial Guinea, January 18 -The impressive Heldon struck from the penalty spot as Cape Verde came from behind to draw 1-1 with Tunisia in Africa Cup of Nations Group B on Sunday.
Mohamed Ali Moncer had given much-fancied Tunisia the lead with only 20 minutes remaining in Ebebiyin, but Heldon won and then converted a penalty on 77 minutes to ensure a share of the spoils.
The result leaves all four teams in Group B locked on one point after the opening round of games following the 1-1 draw between Zambia and DR Congo earlier in the day.
Unlikely quarter-finalists in 2013, Cape Verde almost took a shock early lead when Fernando Varela hit the post with a free header only two minutes in.
Kuca also came close for the Blue Sharks in the first half, while an attempted cross by Djaniny almost dropped into the net.
Tunisia suffered a huge blow last week when attacking duo Saber Khalifa and Fakhreddine Ben Youssef were forced to withdraw from the competition at the last minute due to injury.
Ahmed Akaichi was one of their replacements and the Esperance man saw his header superbly kept out by Vozinha from Tunisia’s best opening of the first half.
The Carthage Eagles’ success in qualifying was based largely on the strength of their defence, although they were regularly troubled by Cape Verde here.
Indeed, they were indebted to Syam Ben Youssef for a clearance off the line to deny Kuca, before Yassine Chikhaoui headed against the bar at the other end from a Moncer free-kick.
Ben Youssef netted the rebound only to see his effort disallowed for a foul, but Georges Leekens’s side were in front soon after when Moncer converted a ball across goal from Ali Maaloul.
But Cape Verde were not to be denied as Heldon won a penalty after being fouled by Ben Youssef just inside the area, and the Sporting Lisbon man smashed his spot-kick high into the top left-hand corner of the net.