Ighalo scored the only goal as Nigeria defeates Tunisia on Wednesday night. (PHOTO/Courtesy)
Tunisia 1-0 Nigeria
Al Salaam Stadium, Cairo
Nigeria ensured they finished third at the Africa Cup of Nations 2019 as they defeated Tunisia 1-0 on Wednesday night.
In one of the most boring encounters at this year’s edition, Odion Ighalo scored the only goal of the game inside the opening three minutes as both sides struggled to create clear cut chances.
Nigeria looked the more motivated side in the early exchanges taking the game to Tunisia.
They would be rewarded with the first goal inside 3 minutes. A powerful run down the right by Jemilu Collins saw the left-back send in a low cross which was messed up by the combination of Yassine Meriah and goalkeeper Ben Cherifia, leaving Odion Ighalo to tap into an empty net for 1-0.
Tunisia who lost to Senegal in the semis had their first sniff on goal four minutes later as Yassine Khenissi saw his deflected shot go out for a fruitless corner.
After the early exchanges, the game slowed down with both sides struggling to create chances.
Inside the one additional minute at the end of the first half, Ighalo pulled a hamstring at was forced off. The striker’s injury came just moments after Khenissi had been replaced by Firas Chaouat as Tunisia called for the first change.
Ighalo would not return for the second half and was eventually replaced by Victor Osimhen.
The Eagles of Carthage returned for the last 45 minutes a different side as they went in search of an equalizer.
They came close to getting it on 48 minutes but Chaouat sent his effort wide after he was played in by the lively Wahbi Khazri.
Tunisia’s first and only shot in target came in the 56 minutes as Anice Badri’s tame effort from distance was routinely saved by Franciz Uzoho.
At the other end, Samuel Chukweuze tried his luck from distance but his effort was tipped out for just a corner by Cherifia.
Khazri who has literally carried Tunisia on his shoulders throughout the tournament, was trying but not getting the support required to inflict telling damage onto the Super Eagles.
With time running out, Cheferia was forced into two saves from two Nigeria free-kicks, ensuring the game ends 1-0 in Nigeria’s favour.
The result means the Super Eagles finish third at AFCON once again. This is the 8th time the Super Eagles have finished third at the continental show piece, more than any other nation.
For Tunisia, they never really got going in the tournament and 4th place feels like what their performances deserved.
The final of AFCON 2019
-Algeria vs Senegal, Friday 19th July @10pm