Match ends, Tunisia 1, Cape Verde Islands 1.
Tunisia had to settle for a point in their Africa Cup of Nations opener after Cape Verde deservedly came from behind to draw in Group B.
Cape Verde defender Fernando Varela headed against the post early on.
Kuca's shot was then cleared off the line by Tunisia's Syam Ben Youssef before Yassine Chikhaoui headed against the bar for the North Africans.
Mohamed Ali Moncer slid in the opener but Heldon levelled from the penalty spot for the Islanders.
The draw - a third 1-1 in four matches so far - sees all four teams level in group B after Crystal Palace's Yannick Bolasie earned DR Congo a draw against Zambia earlier in the day.
Tunisia, making their 12th consecutive appearance at the Cup of Nations, lost key forwards Saber Khalifa and Fakhreddine Ben Youssef to injury before the tournament started.
The withdrawals contributed to a difficult week which also saw them endure problems with their accommodation in Equatorial Guinea, and they struggled to create much in a scrappy first half.
Rui Aguas, the Portuguese coach of Cape Verde, said the Blue Sharks are determined to match their run to the quarter-finals in South Africa two years ago - on their Afcon debut - and they were the brighter of the two sides in a half of few chances.
Fernando Varela headed against the post in the opening minutes and his side were certain they should have been awarded a penalty when striker Heldon was tripped by Ali Maaloul, but a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area was awarded.
Played at the 5,000 capacity Ebebeyin Stadium - a new ground carved out of the dense jungle in the far north-eastern corner of Equatorial Guinea - Cape Verde continued to have the better chances after the break, with Kuca's effort off the line by Ben Youssef.
Buoyed by that let off, Tunisia finally started to push as Chikhaoui headed against the bar, but the referee then blew his whistle for a push as the loose ball was bundled into the net.
The pressure told though as Moncer slotted Ali Maaloul's low cross into the top corner at the far post.
But, just seven minutes later, Sporting Lisbon's Heldon levelled from the spot after being felled by Ben Youssef.
Tunisia coach George Leekens:
"It is back to square one for all of us, making the next games that much more important."
Cape Verde Islands coach Rui Aguas:
"We wanted to win but we have to remember we came from one down so I think it was a good result at the end of the day."
- 2S Ben Youssef
- 21SaihiSubstituted forRaguedat 87'minutes
- 15Ali Moncer
- 18KhazriBooked at 15minsSubstituted forMsakniat 82'minutes
- 19AkaichiSubstituted forRjaibiat 82'minutes
- 1Ben Mustapha
- 20Ali Yacoubi
- 22Ben Cherifia
- 23Ben Djemia
- 23Soares TavaresSubstituted forMendes da Graçaat 75'minutes
- 14Estaline Dias Barros
- 2dos Santos Tavares
- 5Monteiro Macedo Babanco
- 10Almeida Ramos
- 21Tavares SemedoSubstituted forTavaresat 68'minutes
- 9Alves MirandaSubstituted forFortesat 84'minutes
- 4Silveira da Graca
- 6Monteiro Semedo
- 8Varela Monteiro
- 11Mendes Rodrigues
- 13Almada Soares
- 16Cruz Rosário
- 18Freitas Santos
- 20Mendes da Graça
- Eric Otogo-Castane
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Tunisia 1, Cape Verde Islands 1.
Attempt missed. Edam Rjaibi (Tunisia) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Ali Maâloul following a set piece situation.
Youssef Msakni (Tunisia) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Fernando Varela (Cape Verde Islands).
Attempt missed. Yassine Chikhaoui (Tunisia) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Hamza Mathlouthi.
Attempt missed. Stéphane Nater (Tunisia) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Mohamed Ali Moncer.
Yassine Chikhaoui (Tunisia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Babanco (Cape Verde Islands).
Offside, Tunisia. Mohamed Ali Moncer tries a through ball, but Youssef Msakni is caught offside.
Hocine Ragued (Tunisia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Stopira (Cape Verde Islands).
Substitution, Tunisia. Hocine Ragued replaces Jamel Saihi.
Foul by Yassine Chikhaoui (Tunisia).
Odaïr Fortes (Cape Verde Islands) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Hamza Mathlouthi (Tunisia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Stopira (Cape Verde Islands).
Substitution, Cape Verde Islands. Odaïr Fortes replaces Kuca.
Jamel Saihi (Tunisia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Héldon (Cape Verde Islands).