SUEZ, Egypt (Reuters) - Tunisia continued their uninspiring showing at the Africa Cup of Nations in a 0-0 draw with Mauritania at the Suez Stadium on Tuesday but a third successive stalemate was enough to clinch second place in Group E and a place in the last 16.
Tunisia, ranked second on the continent and playing in a record-equalling 14th successive Cup of Nations, finished runners-up to Mali in the section and will now meet Ghana in Ismailia on Monday in the knockout round.
Mauritania finished bottom of the group to exit the tournament with two points, and one goal, but a much enhanced reputation after a plucky display against a team 78 places above them in the FIFA world rankings.
Rookies Mauritania had the best of the first half exchanges, starting as early as the fourth minute when Ismail Diakhite’s shot was punched away by Tunisia goalkeeper Moez Hassen.
El Hacen El Id headed narrowly wide with an unchallenged header at the back post in the 19th minute and Diakhite had another chance just before the break, which he too missed.
Tunisia, whose previous group games were 1-1 draws with Angola and Mali, did not create a decent chance until the 40th minute when captain Youssef Msakni had his shot turned around the post by goalkeeper Brahim Souleimane
Mauritania lost captain Abdoul Ba to a bizarre injury when a ball struck him on the knee, forcing him off in the 17th minute, and his replacement Diadie Diarra looked to have broken his arm early in the second half in a heavy fall and was also replaced.
Msakni had another shot saved by Souleimane with some 12 minutes left after a combination with Wahib Khazri offered Tunisian supporters a rare moment of excitement.
Mali edged Angola 1-0 in the other Group E game played in Ismailia that left their opponents on two points which was not enough to go through as one of the best third-placed teams.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ken Ferris