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.
Losing semi-finalists, Nigeria Super Eagles and Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles will battle for the third and fourth spots in African football.
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.
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 AFCON by 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 have won only one of their three third-place games in Afcon history. That triumph was a 3-0 win over Uganda in 1962.