AFCON 2021: Nigeria, Tunisia a repeat of 2019 3rd place playoff - Latest football news in Uganda
May 26, 2022

AFCON 2021: Nigeria, Tunisia a repeat of 2019 3rd place playoff

By Brian Aheebwa
Nigeria's kelechi Iheanacho (14) celebrates his winner over Egypt with teammates | Ogan La Media - Adepoju Tobi Samuel

Nigeria and Tunisia will for the second time in a row meet in a knockout encounter of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

The two sides played in the third place playoff final of the 2019 edition in Egypt with Nigeria edging Tunisia 1-0 to finish third and take home a bronze medal.

Now in Cameroon, for the 2021 edition, they are once again set for a Round of 16 battle between themselves at Roumde Adija Stadium on Sunday, January 23.

This came as a result of Nigeria finishing top of Group D with maximum points and Tunisia being one of the best four third-placed teams, having gathered three points in Group F.

Nigeria come into Sunday’s game high flying with 100% performance in Cameroon so far while they are also unbeaten in the last six games across all competitions.

With a show they exhibited in the group stages, the Super Eagles have been tipped by many to go all the way and claim their fourth AFCON title but head coach Augustine Eguavoen believes going past Tunisia will be tricky.

“We have watched some of their games and from what we know of them in the distant past and in lucid memory, they are never a team to take for granted,” Eguavoen said after learning Tunisia will be Nigeria’s last 16 opponents.

Eguavoen was once again Nigeria’s head coach when the two sides met in another knockout phase in 2006. The West Africans edged the then defending champions, Tunisia on penalties in the quarterfinals in Egypt.

“That was a huge, huge game and a memorable one for me. The match ended 1-1 in regulation and the extra time and we had to go into penalties.”

“We lost two of our first three kicks or something like that and then bounced back when our goalkeeper (Vincent Enyeama) stopped two of their kicks. It was a sweet victory,” Eguavoen recalled.

Nearly everyone in the Nigeria camp is on top of his game. The likes of Leicester City duo Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi, Watford’s William Troost-Ekong, Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze and Nantes’ Moses Simon and it will only need Eguavoen to play his cards right regards team selection.

On the other hand, Tunisia will be pleased with their 4-0 victory over Mauritania which is the only reason they’re still in Cameroon, having lost two of the other group games to Mali and Gambia.

They will be hoping they put up a similar show as they did against Mauritania, otherwise, their general performance has not been one to rely on coming into the knockouts.

The Eagles of Carthage have failed to score in three of their last four games in all competitions.

At this very tournament, they have missed a penalty in each of their three group stage games. Captain Wahbi Khazri was the first to miss from the spot in their 1-0 loss to Mali at the start of the tournament.

Then, Youssef Msakni and Seifeddine Jaziri also missed theirs in a 4-0 win over Mauritania and in a 1-0 loss to Gambia respectively.

Khazri and 11 others missed Tunisia’s last group game against Gambia after returning positive Covid-19 results and it is still not clear if they will make this particular tie.

The winner in this fixture will take on the victor between Gabon and Burkina Faso in the quarterfinals. The latter duo will kick off the round of 16 games on Sunday at the Limbe Stadium.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.