The Africa Cup of Nations returns with another nerve-racking fixture as two African heavyweight face-off.
Nigeria will face Tunisia for a place in the quarterfinal of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations at the Stade Roumde Adjia on Sunday.
The battle of the ‘two Eagles’ is inarguably one of the standout fixtures of the round-of-16.
This will be the second knockout-stage encounter between the sides in three years after the Super Eagles secured a slender 1-0 victory in last edition’s third-place playoff tie in Egypt and this makes for an exciting watch.
Nigeria vs Tunisia African Cup of Nations Fixture Preview
Nigeria have enjoyed a sensational start to the Africa Cup of Nations and head into the knockout stages as the standout side and team to beat at the tournament after a string of thrilling results.
The Super Eagles kicked off their quest to conquer the continent for a fourth time on a brilliant note as they saw off fellow group favourites Egypt 1-0 on January 11 courtesy of Kelechi Iheanacho’s 30th-minute strike.
This was followed by an even more dominant display in their second group outing as they cruised to a comprehensive 3-1 victory over Sudan four days later, when Samuel Chukwueze, Taiwo Awoniyi and Moses Simon netted before Walieldin Khidir pulled one back from the spot in the 70th minute.
Nigeria wrapped things up in the group stages last time out when they claimed a comfortable 2-0 victory over Guinea-Bissau when the sides met at the Roumde Adjia Stadium last time out.
With the Djurtus needing all three points to secure passage into the knockout stages, it was Augustine Eguavoen’s men who took the lead through Umar Sadiq’s goal 11 minutes after the interval before William Troost-Ekong made sure of the result with a 75th-minute strike.
With three wins from their first three games, Nigeria clinched top spot in Group D, three points ahead of second-place Egypt, and are the only side with a perfect record at the tournament so far.
The 2013 champions head into Sunday’s game unbeaten in each of their last six outings across all competitions, claiming five wins and one draw since a October’s 1-0 loss against Central African Republic in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
On the other hand, Tunisia who have barely caught the eye at the tournament, head into the round of 16 as one of the two best third-placed sides in the group stages.
The Eagles of Cartage were denied a dream start to their Africa Cup of Nations campaign when they fell to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Mali at the Limbe Omnisport Stadium in their opening game on January 12.
Like all good sides do, Mondher Kebaier’s men responded in fine fashion as they steamrollered Mauritania 4-0 in their second group outing four days later, when veteran forward Wahbi Khazri put on a clinic, scoring two goals and registering one assist.
However, the 2004 champions were stunned by an inexperienced Gambia side who secured a 1-0 win when they met in their final group game last time out, when Ablie Jallow scored a dramatic 93rd-minute winner to send the Scorpions through to the knockout stages in their first-ever appearance at the tournament.
Tunisia’s struggle for form so far has been in no small part owing to the lack of sting at the attacking end of the pitch as they have now failed to score in three of their last four games across all competitions.
They will now look to bounce back once again and get one over their West African counterparts who snatched a 1-0 victory courtesy of Odion Ighalo’s third-minute strike when the sides went toe to toe for Bronze in Egypt three years back.
Looking at past results between Nigeria and Tunisia, we can expect a cagey contest on Sunday as the results have been split right down the middle in the history of this fixture, with both sides claiming six wins apiece, while the spoils have been shared on eight different occasions.
Nigeria vs Tunisia Head-to-Head
This will be the 20th meeting between the two sides at international level and they have been evenly matched across previous games played.
They each have six wins apiece while eight matches in the past have ended in a share of the spoils.
Their most recent meeting came in an international friendly in October 2020 when goals from Kelechi Iheanacho and Mohamed Drager saw parity restored in a 1-1 draw.
Prior to that. Odion Ighalo’s early goal was enough to give Nigeria a 1-0 victory to secure third spot at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Nigeria Africa Cup of Nations form:
Nigeria form (all competitions):
Tunisia Africa Cup of Nations form:
Tunisia form (all competitions):
Nigeria vs Tunisia Team News
Chidozie Awaziem is the only outfield Nigerian player yet to get minutes in the competition, having initially faced fitness issues. The Alanyaspor defender has, however, returned to full fitness and could be set to make his tournament debut.
Coach Augustine Eguavon has named a highly-changed squad for the game against Guinea-Bissau with qualification already guaranteed. He is likely to revert to his strongest lineup for this crunch clash.
Goalkeeper Ben Mustapha will be suspended due to his red card against The Gambia. Hamza Mathlouthi is also suspended due to accumulated yellow cards. The Tunisian camp was hit by a COVID outbreak before their final group game against The Gambia. As many as 11 players have been infected and might not be available for the game against Nigeria.
Doubtful: Wahbi Al Khazri, Naim Sliti, Dylan Bronn, Ghaylen Chaalali, Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane, Ali Maaloul, Mohamed Amine Ben Hmida, Aymen Dahmen, Yoann Touzghar, Issam Jebali
Suspension: Hamza Mathlouthi, Ben Mustapha
Nigeria vs Tunisia Prediction
Nigeria have stamped their name as genuine title contenders following a near flawless run in the group stages. While going up against Tunisia can be a tricky task for any side, Nigeria possess the quality needed to come out victorious and we are backing them to do just that and continue their charge for the title.
Tunisia flattered to deceive in a group they were expected to win and they come into the game against Nigeria as underdogs. The 2004 champions could, however, spring a surprise if they are underrated but we are backing the West African giants to secure a comfortable victory.
We say: Nigeria 2-0 Tunisia
Drop your prediction in the comment section below