AFCON 2019: Tunisia vs Nigeria preview


Beaten semi – finalists Tunisia and Nigeria meet in the third and fourth place play-off match of AFCON 2019, where both will be looking to finish on a high and claim the bronze medal prize.

With both sides suffering narrow, heartbreaking defeats to finalists Senegal and Algeria respectively, they will have to pick themselves up for one last push at Cairo’s Al Salam Stadium (Wednesday 17th July, 20:00 UK time).

While neither team have showed quite enough over the course of the tournament, they will both see this as an opportunity to finish solid campaigns well, and further lay foundations for future success.

Though there’s not much to choose between the two teams, Nigeria will enter as slight favourites, mainly down to their superior attacking threats and match winners.

Third/fourth place play-off matches are usually unpredictable encounters as managers often give run-outs to squad players who haven’t figured as much in previous matches.

This could be the case here, with Nigeria likely to give some game time to youngsters Henry Onyekuru, Samuel Kalu and Victor Osimhen, while Odion Ighalo will hope he can add to his goal tally (four) and pick up the tournaments Golden Boot award.

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr told newspaper ‘The Punch’ that his youthful side will use the match to continue their progress and focus on areas where improvement is needed:

Text – The Punch

Tunisia will provide very capable and awkward opponents for the Super Eagles. Seen somewhat as draw specialists, the Tunisians are a very solid unit defensively, conceding few goals on the whole.

On the flip side however, their compact, possession based 4-3-3 formation sometimes lacks both creativity and a cutting edge.

Like Nigeria, it’s difficult to forecast how the Tunisians will line up as, again, they may choose to give a chance to some squad players.

Coach Alain Giresse has said that while his team will be intent on winning the game, some of his squad are suffering the physical effects of a long campaign:

Image – @CAF_Online

It would however, be surprising not to see their biggest threats Wahbi Khazri and Youssef Msakni start, while Taha Khenissi will be hoping to get the chance to put some recent costly misses in front of goal behind him.

The head to head record between the two is very tight indeed, with the last three meetings ending all square, with one win apiece prior to that, and it’s likely to be a close game here too, with little between the sides.

A lot depends on the mindset and selections of the two teams, however with all things considered, I feel the pace and power of the Nigerians may just prove the difference.


About Author

Comments are closed.