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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2021: Eguavoen unimpressed with officiating in Nigeria’s loss to Tunisia

9:27 PM MYT 24/01/2022
Augustine Eguavoen
The tactician was far from happy with the officiating as the Super Eagles crashed out to Carthage Eagles in Garoua

Nigeria coach Augustine Eguavoen has subtly hit out at the officiating in his side’s 1-0 defeat to Tunisia in Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations Round of 16 clash.

The Super Eagles crashed out of the biennial African showpiece at the Roumde Adjia Stadium, with Youssef Msakni’s 47th-minute strike settling the encounter.

To make things worse for the 2013 African champions, referee Maguette Ndiaye gave Alex Iwobi the marching orders following a rash challenge on Msakni.

Asked about his review of Ndiaye’s performance, Eguavoen highlighted the decision to send off the Everton man as one of the incidents where the Senegalese arbiter got things wrong on the night.

“It’s a little bit difficult, I don’t like to talk too much about referees because they are the masters,” he told the media after the game.

“[Alex] Iwobi’s red card was his first foul and it wasn’t intentional also. However, I don’t think a first offence deserves a red card because it wasn’t dangerous play.

“And then, right in his face I see one of the gentlest men in the team – [Wilfred] Ndidi got mashed right in the presence of the referee. He had to complain which meant it was a clear foul.

“Having said that, we got advantage on breakaways and he recalled it and gave us fouls. When there is a foul and you are in an advantageous position, you let it run.

“So, that’s the only thing. Again, the referee is a gentleman so he should be able to control his emotions. Well, it has happened and there is nothing we can do about it.”

Notwithstanding Nigeria’s failed expedition in Cameroon, Eguavoen absolved his players of any blame, insisting they gave their all.

“We came here with a mission. Round of 16 we all know what it means – you lose you go home; you win you remain in the tournament,” he continued.

“That is what we have been singing and we can’t really fault these boys because they gave it all, fought for it and it just wasn’t to be.

“A slight mistake from one of our best players – his timing was wrong – that was the only chance they had and they took advantage of it.

“I have told the boys don’t bury your heads down because you have given everything.”

The Super Eagles are expected to commence preparations for the 2022 World Cup qualification play-off versus Ghana immediately.