Tunisia and Nigeria looking for bronze reconciliation

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After stumbling in the penultimate hurdle of the Total Africa Cup of Nations Egypt 2019, Tunisia and Nigeria are looking for reconciliation on Wednesday (17 July 2019) when they face each other at the Cairo based Al Salam Stadium in the third place playoff. The match kicks off at 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT).

Tunisia lost to Senegal 0-1 after extra-time, while Nigeria conceded a last minute goal to fall 1-2 to Algeria in the semifinal.

The Carthage Eagles reached the semifinal for the first time since winning the title at home in 2004, but couldn’t take the final step. Tunisia started on a slow note with three draws in the group stage, 1-1 with Angola and Mali and goalless against Mauritania. In the Round of 16 they needed penalties to oust Ghana after a 1-1 draw. And in the quarterfinals it was all one way traffic to defeat Madagascar 3-0. But they had to deal with a heartbreak in the penultimate round losing to Senegal 1-0 after extra-time. Missing a penalty in the second half, and being declined another by VAR, besides a headed own goal gave them some sour taste to deal with waiting for the bronze medals match.

William Paul Ekong of Nigeria (l) reacts in disappointment after scoring an own goal during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Finals Semifinal football match between Algeria and Nigeria at the Cairo International Stadium, Cairo, Egypt on 14 July 2019 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Meanwhile three time champions Nigeria wished to add a new star on their green jersey, but their campaign was cut short at the semifinal. The Super Eagles started their campaign defeating Burundi 1-0. They then defeated Guinea with the same result, before succumbing to a 2-0 defeat to debutants Madagascar. Nigeria then defeated title holders Cameroon 3-2 in the Round of 16. In the quarterfinals they defeated South Africa 2-1, but their way was stopped at the semifinal with a 2-1 defeat to Algeria. They will now face Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles looking for a place on the podium.

What they said

Alain Giresse (Coach, Tunisia)

Our target was more than just reaching the semifinal. But now we focus in the game against Nigeria and hope to win the third place. 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 Nigeria game.

Mohamed Drager (Defender, Tunisia)

We were just one step from the final but here we play for the third place. We will try to win the bronze medals. Nigeria is a very strong team but we want to leave with a good memory for us and our supporters.

Gernot Rohr (Coach, Nigeria)

We will keep focused in the third place playoff and hope to sign off with a happy result. I worked in Tunisia but on the pitch this means nothing. Both teams have similar ambitions and many young players who would like to win. Alain Giresse is an experienced coach and I’m always happy to play against him. When you are one of the four best teams in the continent this is a good result and we have to build on it. This is a team with brilliant future.

Alex Iwobi (Forward, Nigeria)

We always take lessons from our mistakes. We are a young team and hope to return home with the third place. We will enter the game with the needed respect and seriousness.