AFCON 2019: Super Eagles clinch Bronze after victory over Tunisia in third-place playoff
The Super Eagles of Nigeria ensured they had a remarkable end to their campaign at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations as they piped the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia 1-0 in the third-place playoff to clinch Bronze.
A smart finish in the six-yard box from striker Odion Ighalo in the 3rd minute of the encounter was just enough for the West Africans to secure victory.
Gernot Rohr named an almost similar XI to the one which prosecuted the Algeria game, but will Ola Aina in place of suspended Chidozie Awaziem and Francis Uzoho starting in goal.
It took Ighalo only three minutes after the blast of the whistle to poke in from close range Nigeria’s opener – his 5th of the competition. Jamilu Collins eased past the Tunisia right-back before releasing a low cross into the box as poor communication between the goalkeeper and defender Yassine Meriah allowed Ighalo to stab home a loose ball a yard from goal.
Tunisia came hard on the Eagles defence for an equaliser later in the first half but the centre-back pairing of Kenneth Omeruo and William Troost-Ekong stood stall against the Wahbi Khazri-inspired side.
In the second half of the encounter, the Tunisians continued in their high pressing with substitute Firas Chaouat notably coming closest two minutes after the restart but he could only hit the side net in a one-on-one situation with Francis Uzoho.
Samuel Chukwueze forced a big save from Ben Chirifia much later as his curling effort from about 25 yards was just tipped out by the goalkeeper.
Just few seconds after coming on to replace Chukwueze in the 90th minute, Samuel Kalu hit a belter strike from a free-kick but was denied by Chirifia who got finger-tips to it.
With the win, the Super Eagles have now clinched Bronze in each of their eight appearances at the third-place playoff of the AFCON – more than any other side.
Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr expressed satisfaction with his lads’ overall performance in the tournament as he opined their third-place finish is better than facing defeat in the final.
“We’re satisfied with the third place – we managed to best Africa’s second-best team,” Rohr stated in he post-match presser.
“It was hard so we are good with it. I told the players that winning a small final is better than winning a big one. I’m very positive about the future.”