AFCON. Nigeria, Tunisia vie for bronze in clash of Eagles

Wednesday July 17 2019

Ighalo will be eyeing the golden boot against a

Ighalo will be eyeing the golden boot against a rival they share bad blood with. PHOTOS BY JOHN BATANUDDE  

By FREDRICK MUSISI KIYINGI

Carthage Eagles of Tunisia clash with Nigeria Super Eagles in a playoff match for third place at Al Salam Stadium, Cairo tonight.
The manner of late semi-final defeats for both team on Sunday could be key when the two Eagles square off for one final hurrah.
There has always been bad blood between North and West Africa, the soccer powers of African football.
The history of this fixture is no exception. In 1978, both teams met for third place playoff match at Accra Sports Stadium, Ghana.
There was an extraordinary conclusion, with the scores level at 1-1, Tunisia walked off the pitch after 42 minutes leading to Caf awarding Nigeria a 2-0 win and ban the North Africans from the next tournament.
Matches for third place rarely seem a thrill for the teams involved and both coaches Alain Giresse of Tunisia and Gernot Rohr of Nigeria will find it hard to lift the morale in their respective camps.
The match is usually for those unused squad members, who will be eager to shine, while their more worn-out teammates will presumably wish they were on the next flight home.

Race for Golden boot
However, Odion Ighalo, the Super Eagles striker will be looking forward to this match. The China-based striker scored his fourth goal against Algeria in the semis and will want one more to equal Nigeria’s Afcon record of five goals in a single tournament set by Rashid Yekini in 1994 when the Super Eagles lifted the trophy.
He is favourite to win the Golden Boot award although, Sadio Mane (Senegal) and Riyad Mahrez (Algeria) with three goals apiece might have the final say during Friday’s final.Giresse, a former Footballer of the Year in France, had led Tunisia to just one defeat in 10 before their semi-final loss, including a win in Croatia during the build-up to this summer’s tournament.
Neither side can be crowned champions and it could become a case of who cares more about the little matter of the bronze medal.

Key Statistics

*You have to look all the way back

to January 2000 to find the last time this

fixture did not finish All-Square. Nigeria

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won 4-2 from 2-0 down.

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