Super Eagles of Nigeria settled for the third place in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Egypt after a third minute strike by Odion Ighalo sank Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles on Wednesday night.
The lone goal ensured that the Super Eagles secured a record eighth AFCON bronze medal in Egypt at the Cairo international Stadium on Wednesday.
The Eagles had to settle for a third-place clash with Tunisia after a 2-1 semi-final defeat to Algeria, who will contest the final with Senegal on Friday.
And in a drab first-half battle in Cairo, it was the Eagles that were quick to race out of the blocks as they peppered the Tunisian backline seeking for an early goal.
It eventually came in the third minute as the Tunisians failed to deal with defender Jamilu Collins’ cross, thus allowing former Watford striker Ighalo to pounce on the goal-mouth melee and grab his fifth of the tournament and the only goal of the match.
It seems Ighalo’s strike nudged the North Africans as Alain Giresse’s side took charge and dictated proceedings from then on.
Tunisia had more of the ball (53 per cent) than Nigeria (47 per cent) but failed to get back into the game as the Nigerians were happy to gift possession as the first half wore on.
Odion Ighalo’s night was cut short as he succumbed to a hamstring injury forcing the bench to bring on Victor Osimhen in the second half.
At the resumption of hostilities, the North Africans picked up the intensity from where they left off.
They bossed possession but, only gave the Eagles few scare through substitute Firas Chaouat in the 53rd and 56th minute respectively.
Chaouat’s introduction injected life into the Carthage Eagles’ attack as his strong runs gave Kenneth Omeruo and Troost-Ekong some horrid times.
But, the Eagles replied through vibrant Villarreal sensation Samuel Chukwueze.
The 20-year-old was a live-wire in an Eagles attack that struggled to bite after Ighalo’s exit.
His 63rd minute long range scorcher that was palmed away by the Tunisian goalie, and his brilliant pass to Osimehn after skipping his marker only amplified his worth to the Yellow Submarines.
However, as the game wore off, the Tunisians started losing steam thereby giving the Nigerians the opportunity to seize the initiative and kill off the contest as Gernot Rohr brought on Samuel Kalu for Al Nasr forward, Ahmed Musa.