The Super Eagles of Nigeria and Cartage Eagles of Tunisia will be stepping onto the field of play against each other for the 19th time when they meet in the Loser’s match of the 32nd African Cup of Nations coming up in Egypt at 8pm on Wednesday. It is the 51st match of the 52 matches to be played in the tournament slated for the land of Pharoah.
Nigeria is in the 15th semis winning the Bronze medals 7 times in 1976 (against Guinea), Ghana in 1978 (against Tunisia), Senegal in 1992 (against Cameroon), Mali in 2002 (against Mali), Tunisia in 2004 (against Mali), Egypt in 2006 (against Senegal) and Angola in 2010 (against Algeria).
Tunisia is in the 8th semis winning bronze in 1962
The only previous time both Eagles have clashed in the third place match of the Africa Cup of Nations was in 1978, but the encounter in Accra did not end as the Tunisians abandoned the match following Segun Odegbami’s equalizer late in the first half.
CAF duly awarded the match to Nigeria 2-0 and the Green Eagles received the bronze medals.
In other confrontations at the Africa Cup of Nations, Nigeria lashed Tunisia 4-2 in a group phase match at the 2000 finals that Nigeria and Ghana co-hosted, while Tunisia, also on home ground, edged Nigeria on penalties after their semi final clash in Rades in 2004 was stalemated at 1-1 after regulation and extra time.
Will Tunisia lose the Bronze to Nigeria again?
According to CAF statistics, Nigeria had 71 total attempts at goal while Tunisia had 62 but the shots on target are almost equal. That means the Super Eagles could be too hot for Tunisia to handle. The record of own goals which shows Tunisia committed twice could be an advantage to Nigeria if they can pile up the pressure and tighten the defense. Rami Bedoui had an own goal against Ghana and Dylan Bronn also against Senegal in the Semis while William Troost-Ekong did his also in the semis against Algeria.
CAF also stated that Nigeria had 33 corner kicks to Tunisia’s 25. Nigeria was caught offside thrice while Tunisia was caught 12 times. Now it means Nigeria knows how to create more chances to score while Tunisia is just looking for short cuts to scoring or cheating through offside goals. That demands that Nigeria needs a crop of defenders who are very alert and smart.
Nigeria has scored 8 goals and conceded 7 while Tunisia could only muster 6 goals while conceding 4. The implication of this is that Nigeria could score on a good day. Nigeria scored 1.3 goals per match in 6 matches while Tunisia had 1 goal per match in same duration of matches. Both teams are low scoring teams and goals margin may not be much. A goal could win a Bronze for either side.
The Tunisians are terribly rough having the highest rough tackles committed among the last four semifinalists. CAF recorded 123 fouls of Tunisia to 110 of Nigeria and 11 yellow cards of Tunisia to Nigeria’s 5 yellows, three of which was bagged in the match #NIGALG. Nigeria should be ready for hack downs, jersey pulling or tearing and the lots. Among African teams especially from the North of Africa, Tunisia has the dirtiest tricks to win matches. If they score you first they would waste time and provoke opponents. Any small collision they will tell the Ref to flash the card. The match will be very rough.
It was found that the Tunisians look more match fit than Nigeria. They covered 674 km while Nigeria could only make 506 km. Most Nigerian players gasp for breathe if you observe well. A good coach would refresh with new legs from the bench.
Nigeria’s goalkeeper, David Akpeyi has apologized to Nigerians for his blunders but whether it is acceptable to the unbending millions of football fans is another kettle of tea. The influx of battalions of legislators and other government officials going to Egypt on the excuse rendering support to the team is colossal economic waste when you calculate their allowances. The allowances of our teams always drag before being given but those of the delegation are pronto and sky rocketing.
Both sides met 18 times. Nigeria won 6 times, Tunisia won 4 times and they had 8 draws. They met at AFCON level 7 times. Nigeria won thrice on 25th November 1961 2-1; 23rd January 2000 4-2 (highest scores ever in the group stage) and at the quarterfinals of 4th February 2006 when the match ended 1-1 but Nigeria won 7-6 on penalties while Tunisia, also on home ground, edged Nigeria on penalties after their semi final clash in Rades in 2004 was stalemated at 1-1 after regulation and extra time
They played draw four times.
The two teams met at the World Cup qualifiers 8 times. Nigeria won thrice; Tunisia won twice and they played draw thrice. In other competitions, there were three, Tunisia won an International friendly on 26th of September 1984 5-0 (the highest ever win over Nigeria); won in an LG Cup on 9th August 1997 2-0 and played 1-1 in a friendly in Tunisia on 22nd February 1992.
- ENIOLA OLATUNJI.