Seven-time bronze winners Nigeria haven’t lost a third-place game
It’s a feisty confrontation of Eagles as Nigeria and Tunisia file out at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo on Wednesday (today) for the third-place match of the 32nd Africa Cup of Nations.
Otherwise called the ‘losers’ final’, the third-place match traditionally awards bronze medals to the winning team.
It’s a replay of the 1978 edition of the competition, when Nigeria defeated the North Africans in controversial circumstances, to claim bronze.
Both sides must recover adequately after losing in the semi-finals on Sunday: Nigeria falling to a superb RiyadMahrez free-kick at the death against Algeria and Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles crashing out courtesy of an own goal by DyranBronn against Senegal.
The Confederation of African Football has appointed Egyptian referee GehadGrisha to take charge of proceedings.
Nigeria, in her 18th appearance at the Cup of Nations, made the semi-finals for the 15th time – a remarkable record of almost always getting to the business end of the championship. The country failed to reach the semis only thrice: 1963 (debut, in Ghana), 1982 (Libya) and 2008 (Ghana).
Of the 15 times Nigeria have made the semi-finals, the Eagles have gone ahead to win the title three times, picked up the silver medals four times and won bronze medals seven times.
Nigeria have also never lost a third-place match at the AFCON, winning in Ethiopia in 1976 (against Guinea), Ghana in 1978 (against Tunisia), Senegal in 1992 (against Cameroon), Mali in 2002 (against Mali), Tunisia in 2004 (against Mali), Egypt in 2006 (against Senegal) and Angola in 2010 (against Algeria).
The only previous time both Eagles have clashed in the third-place match of the Africa Cup of Nations was in 1978, but the encounter in Accra did not end as the Tunisians abandoned the match following SegunOdegbami’s equalizer late in the first half.
CAF duly awarded the match to Nigeria 2-0 and the Green Eagles received the bronze medals.
In other confrontations at the Africa Cup of Nations, Nigeria lashed Tunisia 4-2 in a group phase match at the 2000 finals co-hosted by Nigeria and Ghana, while Tunisia, also on home ground, edged Nigeria on penalties after their semi-final clash in Rades in 2004 was stalemated at 1-1.
Perhaps the most memorable clash between the two at the AFCON remains their quarter-final battle in 2006, also in Egypt. Cup holders Tunisia shot into a comfortable lead during the penalty shoot-out following another 1-1 stalemate after regulation and extra time at the El Masry Stadium in Port Said. But Nigeria rallied through saves by goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama and the Eagles eliminated the defending champions.