Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2021: Nigeria vs Tunisia - Where the game will be won and lost

5:57 PM GMT 21/01/2022
CAN 2022 Nigeria Moses Simon
GOAL look into the factors that could decide the Super Eagles’ Round of 16 meeting with the North Africans

  • Super Eagles, Nigeria

    Nigeria vs Tunisia

    The hitherto perfect Super Eagles play host to a North African side ravaged by coronavirus absences and still reeling from their shock 1-0 defeat by the Gambia this week.

    Augustine Eguavoen’s team have claimed victories in all their games at the Africa Cup of Nations, defeating Egypt, Sudan and Guinea-Bissau, ending the group stage with a 100 percent record.

    In a repeat of the 2019 third-place playoff, the three-time African champions look to claim another victory over the Eagles of Carthage.

    It will be inappropriate to not discuss how both sides could look to outdo each other.

  • Kelechi Iheanacho Nigeria Afcon 2022

    Taking their chances

    While this seems like a cliche, but the West Africans’ profligacy must be kept to the bare minimum especially as there is little margin for error now.

    At times in the group stage, Eguavoen’s team failed to tuck away several promising chances to either make games end comfortably or score more to add to secure advantages.

    It is no surprise the Super Eagles underperformed their Expected Goals, despite accruing a higher xG than any side in the group stage.

  • Nigeria, Super Eagles

    Making the most of little possession

    Their 1-0 win over Egypt in the group stage already showed the Nigerians’ proficiency despite having little of the ball.

    Owing to Tunisia’s fondness for keeping possession — only five sides averaged more than the North African nation’s 59.9 percent possession — the West African team will back themselves to punish Mondher Kebaier’s troops when they regain the ball on the transition.

    Having demonstrated their counter-attacking potential against the Pharaohs, fans of the Super Eagles will hope for more on Sunday evening.

  • Troost-Ekong Nigeria Egypt 2022

    Concession of the first goal

    Interestingly, the Super Eagles have gone ahead in all their three games at the finals.

    They have not had to face the challenge of coming from behind in any of their games, something Kebaier will push his side to change in Douala on Sunday.

    Conversely, Tunisia have lost both games in which they have conceded the first goal, although Gambia’s strike came in the third minute of second-half stoppage time.

  • Tunisia captain Wahbi Khazri celebrates his goal with teammates during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

    Potential impact of Khazri & coronavirus returnees

    It goes without saying, but Tunisia’s Covid-19 outbreak has severely hamstrung the North African nation at the finals.

    Kebaier could name only five substitutes against the Gambia, with Wahbi Khazri among those absent in the surprising 1-0 reverse in Limbe.

    No player has hit more shots on target than the Saint-Etienne star who has also fashioned more big chances than any player at the showpiece.

    If the Covid situation in North Africans’ camp is unabating before Sunday, the Eagles of Carthage will face an uphill task against the might of the Super Eagles.

  • Moses Simon

    Stopping Moses Simon

    If Khazri is Tunisia’s top player, then Simon’s performances so far suggest the Nantes man is the Super Eagles’ go-to in Cameroon.

    The wide attacker has arguably been the best player at the competition, and he continued red-hot Afcon showing with an admirable half-hour display in Nigeria’s final group game against Guinea-Bissau, completing all seven attempted dribbles.

    While Eguavoen's team have other attacking threats, reducing Simon’s influence on proceedings will be a win for the Carthage Eagles.