Nigeria Super Eagles lock horns with Tunisia Carthage Eagles in the Round of 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations, Cameroon 2021 today (Sunday).
Both former champions contest for who will soar higher as they eye a place in the quarter-finals of AFCON.
They last met in the third-place match in Egypt 2019, with Nigeria prevailing 1-0 on the day.
The Super Eagles were the only side to get the maximum points in the group stage, giving the Augustine Eguavoen’s men maximum confidence before the knockouts.
Nigeria started the campaign with a 1-0 win over record champions Egypt, followed by a 3-1 victory over Sudan, and concluded the group with a 2-0 win against Guinea Bissau.
Champions in 1980, 1994, and 2013, the group stage maximum tally and entertaining performances may give the Super Eagles the needed morale boost in their hunt for a fourth AFCON title.
Despite being favorites to win their group, Carthage Eagles suffered to find a place in the round of 16 which they only reached as one of the best four third-placed teams.
A 4-0 win over Mauritania ensured their pass, but it came between two 1-0 defeats to Mali and Gambia respectively. And the group was highlighted by the Tunisians missing three penalties, one in each game and via three different players.
Struck by many absences, including 12 players testing positive for COVID-19, Tunisia coach and players vow to give their all to set a new start to their campaign.
We will fight hard – Bilal Kadri
Assistant Coach of Tunisia, Bilal Kadri, said the team will ensure the absence of other players doesn’t affect their performance.
He said, “Our target was to reach the second round and we did that. We have a lot of confidence despite the difficulties we are facing. We know well how strong Nigeria is, but we are all ready to go far in this tournament.
“Our morale is good, and we have experienced and great players. Luck was not on our side, but this is football. We wished that we are not affected by COVID-19, but we have to deal with the situation professionally. Everyone will give 200 per cent of their powers.”
We will fight like soldiers – Aissa Laidouni
Tunisia’s midfielder, Aissa Laidouni, said the team will correct past mistakes during Nigeria’s game.
Laidouni said, “We all play for the team. We just focus on the competition and how to work. We don’t think of the problems. Our focus is the game, and we will do our best to win. We were not good enough against Gambia and were punished at the end.
“We took the lesson and will correct our mistakes and give our best. This is past now and our focus is what’s coming.
“We fear no one and comes the game you will find soldiers giving their all.”
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