AFCON: Tunisia shock Nigeria to enter quarter finals with 1-0 win

Tunisia to play Burkina Faso in the quarterfinals after knocking out three-time AFCON champions Nigeria.

Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 round of 16 football match between Nigeria and Tunisia
Tunisia's players celebrate after scoring the opening goal [Daniel Beloumou Olomo/AFP]

Nigeria have been eliminated from the African Cup of Nations after a shock 1-0 defeat to Tunisia in Sunday’s last 16 match in the Cameroonian port city of Garoua.

Tunisian playmaker Youssef Msakni’s long-range shot at the 47th minute was enough to secure passage to the quarter-finals for the Eagles of Carthage.

Nigeria, the only team to have won all three of its group stage games, might have been able to stage a comeback had it not been for Alex Iwobi’s red card at the 66th minute.

Tunisia, who lost twice in the group stage and only went through as one of the best third-place teams, closed Nigeria down in a cagey game in Garoua on the first day of the knockout stage.

“We allowed them to get a foothold in the game,” said Nigeria’s Joe Aribo. “Can’t take anything away from them, but we should have been better.”

Tunisia got the job done without coach Mondher Kebaier, who was isolating in his hotel room instead of standing on the sidelines after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Tunisia will play Burkina Faso in the quarterfinals.

Burkina Faso beat Gabon

Burkina Faso, for its part, beat Gabon in a penalty shootout in Limbe earlier on Sunday hours after mutinous soldiers seized control of a military base back home, raising fears of a coup attempt.

Substitute Ismahila Ouédraogo buried the decisive spot-kick and Burkina Faso won the shootout 7-6 to finally prevail over a brave Gabonese effort.

Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 round of 16 football match between Nigeria and Tunisia
Tunisia’s forward Youssef Msakni (L) fights for the ball with Nigeria’s midfielder Wilfred Ndidi during the Africa Cup of Nations 2021 round of 16 football match [Daniel Beloumou Olomo/AFP]

Burkina Faso led 1-0, and Gabon had a man sent off in the 67th. But 10-man Gabon equalised in injury time through an own-goal by Burkina Faso midfielder Adama Guira to send the game to extra time.

It stayed 1-1 through extra time.

Burkina Faso twice had opportunities to win the shootout after Gabon players missed. But Burkina Faso players stepped up only to miss as well.

Ouédraogo’s winning penalty was the 18th of the shootout. He scored after Gabon’s Lloyd Palun hit the post for his team’s third and final miss.

Burkina Faso was 1-0 up in normal time through a first-half goal by captain Bertrand Traoré when Gabon had defender Sidney Obissa sent off with just over 20 minutes to go for a second yellow card.

Obissa had pulled a Burkina Faso attacker back by the shirt off the ball as the Burkinabes were surging forward.

It was a miserable day for Obissa, who picked up his first yellow card when he gave away an early penalty by pushing Burkina Faso’s Issa Kaboré on the edge of the area.

Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 round of 16 football match between Nigeria and Tunisia
Tunisia’s players celebrate after winning the match [Daniel Beloumou Olomo/AFP]

Traoré missed that penalty at the start of the game but made up for it 10 minutes later when he ran onto a through ball and slotted his shot underneath Gabon keeper Jean-Noël Amonome, who had come rushing out.

The ball clipped the inside of the post and went in, and Traoré leaped over the advertising boards and ran across an athletics track to celebrate in front of a giant Burkina Faso flag in the crowd.

Chasing the game at 1-0 down, the 10 men of Gabon lived dangerously after Obissa took a walk but they raised themselves for one final effort from a corner in the first minute of injury time and a header by Gabon captain Bruno Ecuele Manga bounced off Guira and into his own net to take it to extra time.

Host Cameroon plays tournament debutant Comoros in the last 16 on Monday, when Comoros looks like it will be forced to field an outfield player as a goalkeeper because of a virus outbreak in its squad.

Guinea plays the Gambia, another debutant, in the other game.

Source: News Agencies