Match Report: Hard fighting Tunisia hold Nigeria

Match Report: Hard fighting Tunisia hold Nigeria

Friday, January 22, 2016 4:53 pm

Taiwo Adelu

A Nigerian player battles for the control of the ball against Tunisian opponent

A Nigerian player battles for the control of the ball against Tunisian opponent

The Carthage Eagles of Tunisia held Nigeria’s Super Eagles Team B to a 1-1 draw in their second group C match of the ongoing Rwanda 2016 African Nations Championship.

Tunisia’s Ahmed Akaichi’s 70th minute goal cancelled Elvis Chisom Chikatara of Nigeria’s 51st minute goal for the two teams to share one point each in the crucial match played in Kigali Friday afternoon.

The Carthage du Eagles of Tunisia were more entertaining in the fist half, but failed to tranlate their huge ball possession into goals. The Nigerian Eagles Team B on their part, looked dangerous in the attack.

In the eighth minute of the first half, the Nigerians got a free kick some metres away from goal from the right wing. Osas Okoro curled the freekick in for Ifeanyi Matthew who took a powerful shot. But the Tunisia goalkeeper Jeridi made a big save of the shot.

The Carthage Eagles menaced the Super Eagles backline afterward. Tunisia’s Akaichi got a 13th minute clear chance, but Nigerian goalie Okechukwu Ezenwa was on hand to make a brilliant stop before Austin Obaroakpo boots the rebound for a corner

What could have been Tunisia’s first gaol came in the 44th minute when Akaichi  headed into Nigeria’s net a cross from his teammate. But Referee Joshua Bondo disallowed Akaichi’s goal at the stroke of half time, because the cross appeared to have been taken after the ball crossed the line.

The assistant referee put up the flag because he saw the ball roll out of touch before it was crossed for Akaichi to score.

A protest from Tunisia’s Mohammed Ben Amor earned him a yellow card and  the first half ended with a final whilstle from the referee.

The second half began with Nigeria coach, Sunday Oliseh making a first change bringing in Orji Kalu for Stephen Eze.

A 51st minute goal by Chikatara sent Nigerian bench into wild jubilation.  Nigeria had gone ahead against the run of play, latching on to a loose ball outside 18 yard box. Okoro set up Chikatara who netted the goal with a clear close range shot which Tunisia’s goalie could not save.

It was Chikatara’ s fourth goal in two games.

After the goal, Nigeria were now playing more relaxed with confidence.  The Tunisians who were anxiously looking for an equaliser changed tactics, they now have two men upfront – Akaichi and Essifi Hichem.

This paid off for the Carthage Eagles in the 70th minute when they drew level.  Akaichi, who was swift on his feet, a good game reader,who also has the physique, turned inside the box and scored after a header from one of his teammates. This was his third goal of the tournament.

Thereafter the two teams were engaged in a ding- dong affair before the referee blew the final whistle.

Though the Nigerian team are still leading the group with four points, with Tunisia having two points in two matches, the scoreline, however put Coach Sunday Oliseh led home-based Eagles in a tight corner going into their third group match next Tuesday.

Guinea and Niger who played after Nigeria-Tunisia, also played a 2-2 draw.

And so Guinea share two points with Tunisia going into the final match. Niger have only a point.

Nigeria will need to beat Guinea or draw to qualify.

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