Call it the final before the final and you won’t be far from right. The third-place fixture at the ongoing African Cup of Nations, AFCON, will be played today between the two eagles – the Super and the Carthage.
Both losers from their last games will be hoping to end their campaign on a high. More so because only the winners on the day get medals for their victory.
Third place playoff: Nigeria beats Tunisia
In the end, it turned out to be an early strike by striker Odion Ighalo that settled the third-place fixture at the AFCON in Cairo.
The Super Eagles flew highest above the Carthage Eagles to win the bronze spot of Africa’s biggest soccer showpiece.
Ighalo is also in line to be the top scorer of the AFCON after scoring his fifth goal of the tournament. He was, however, subbed in injury time of first half after a suspected strain.
FULL TIME: Nigeria wins bronze at AFCON 2019
90’ – We are doing 5 minutes of added. Tunisia running out it time to get the equalizer. Still 1-0
80’ – Into the final 10 mins. Nigeria are holding on to their slim lead, while Tunisia try to salvage an equalizer. Still 1-0
70’ – Tunisia beginning to up the tempo. Khazri has been at the heart of every move but they’ve just lacked that final pass to hurt the Nigerian defence.
60’ – Tunisia started the 2nd half as the better side but Nigeria has regained control of the game. Still no real chances in this half, though.
53’ – Tunisia win a free-kick right outside the Nigeria box. Khazri shoots but the ball goes straight into the wall.
47’ – Miss! Chaouat is through one-on-one with Uzoho but he shoots straight into the side net.
46’ – Second half underway, Ighalo’s 2nd minute goal remains the only difference.
- Big news from Super Eagles is tournament topscorer Odion Ighalo won’t be part of the action after he was subbed after reportedly pulling a strain. His goal tonight gives him five in this AFCON.
45’ Half time means Nigeria are 45-minutes from being the victorious Eagles on the night.
31’ – 45’ – Open exchanges as both sides move forward looking to score, chances have been far and in between usually squandered.
30’ – Quarter of an hour to end the first half….
29’ – Haddadi looks to draw parity for the north Africans but shot is collected by goalie Uzoho.
26’ – Nigeria launch counterattack but nothing comes out of Ndidi’s poor finish
15’ – Tunisians gradually warming themselves into the fixture with a series of bright inroads. Sassi chance but couldn’t direct his shot towards goal.
10’ – Nigeria have been more dominant in the opening 10 minutes. The early goal seems to have settled their nerves and they’re enjoying the larger share of possession.
2’ – Goalll! Nigeria have the first goal inside 2 minutes. And it’s Ighalo
1’ – The game is underway at the Al-Salaam Stadium located in the capital Cairo.
The team Line-ups to start are as follows:
#TUNNGA represents a unique reunion tonight for both managers…😎
— CAF (@CAF_Online) July 17, 2019
The journey till now:
Both teams qualified as second best in their respective groups. Nigeria looked to be topping Group B before Madagascar pulled an upset by beating them 2 – 0 to top the group.
At the round-of-16 level, they kicked out defending champions Cameroon in a five-goal thriller before dispatching South Africa by two goals to one at the quarter-final stage.
Their semi-final clash with Algeria looked set for extra time until Riyad Mahrez broke Nigerian hearts with a last minute free kick.
For their part, Tunisia managed three draws in Group E but still finished second in Group E behind Mali. They beat Ghana in the round-of-16 stage and tactically kicked out Madagascar – the surprise package of the AFCONby three unanswered goals.
The semi-finals clash had traveled into extra time and looked set for penalties but an extra-time strike meant that that Senegalese side managed to avoid penalties which the Tunisians had used to eliminate Ghana in the round-of-16.
Like the final, this is a battle between the West and North of Africa. Tunisia have lost only a game, Nigeria have lost two – Madagascar, Algeria.
There are four AFCONs between them, three for Nigeria and a 2004 triumph for the Carthage Eagles. It sure will come down to which eagle soars highest on the night.
What Tunisian coach Giresse said ahead of the game
“Our target was more than just reaching the semi-final. But now we focus on the game against Nigeria and hope to win third place,” Giresse told the media during Tuesday’s pre-match conference.
“I believe this is going to be a psychologically tough encounter because we are not over that defeat from Senegal yet.
“I cannot say all our players are fit after playing two extra-times but we will do our best.
“This is football and we understand the whole team disappointment. But we have to forget that and focus on the Nigeria game.”
Tunisia has won only one of their three third-place games in Afcon history. That triumph was a 3-0 win over Uganda in 1962.