By Uche Amunike
The Super Eagles of Nigeria have been knocked out of the Nigeria Vs Tunisia 2021 African Cup of Nations (AFCON), after losing 1-0 against Tunisia last Sunday in the Round of 16. It was the first time the Eagles would crash out this early in recent years.
A second half goal by a COVID-ravaged Tunisian side was what sealed Nigeria’s fate. The Super Eagles had come into the match as overwhelming favorites following their excellent group results where they won all three games.
It was however, Tunisia, who lost two group games and only qualified as one of the best losers that upset the apple cart.
Their victory over Nigeria avenged the 1-0 loss to the Eagles at the third place classification match at the last Nations Cup.
Nigeria’s fate was further sealed by what many saw as a dubious red card to Alex Iwobi, two minutes after his introduction in the second half, but most soccer pundits carpeted Nigeria for their casual approach, especially in the first half, even as they frowned on the coach’s poor tactical nous.
Moses Simon, one of the tournament’s stand out players, was rendered anonymous by the superior tactics of the Tunisians.
Football legend Jay Jay Okocha, while analyzing the match, conceded that Tunisia outclassed the Super Eagles with better tactics, even as he described Nigeria’s loss as disappointing.
Recall that Okocha earlier warned that the Nigeria vs Tunisia match would be the Super Eagle’s toughest match as far.
His words ‘I think it is good to see that we are flying high but the most important one is the next game and we can only justify our performances so far if we go on and win the next one,’ he had warned before the last game.
He said the Tunisians executed their tactics well and described the result as a disappointing loss.
‘They outclassed Nigeria. I have always said that you are as good as your next game. This is a lesson for every big team.
‘So every next game is the toughest one for you and the one you have to win. I hope we will carry on the good job that you are doing so far’, Okocha concluded.
On his part, however, the Super Eagle’s interim coach in the Nigeria Vs Tunisia Match, Augustine Eguavoen, said the Super Eagles did not deserve to lose against Tunisia.
Speaking at the post-match press conference, Eguavoen blamed his team’s loss and ejection from the tournament on bad officiating, maintaining that his players fought a good fight.
His words: ‘We tried to come back after the Tunisian goal and we chased the game, but we got a red card. It was clear that the officiating wasn’t fair.’
He advised the Super Eagles to put the loss behind them and focus on the job in hand in March, while pointing out how difficult it was to play against a tactical team like Tunisia especially as the officiating was not fair. He told the super eagles to pick up and ensure that they qualify Nigeria for the World Cup.