It will be fierce battle of Eagles when Nigeria's Super Eagles take on the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia, today, at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo for the third place match of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals in Egypt.
The third place match, otherwise known as 'losers' game', will see the winner awarded bronze medals of the competition. This means both Nigeria and Tunisia who may have yet to recover from shock of their semi-final defeats to Algeria and Senegal respectively have chance to end the competition high and go back home with their heads lifted.
Nigeria fell to a superb Riyad Mahrez free-kick against Algeria and Tunisia crashing out courtesy of an own goal by Dyran Bronn against Senegal.
Nigeria, in her 18th appearance at the Cup of Nations, has made the semi-finals for the 15th time - a remarkable record of almost always getting to the business end of the championship. The country has failed to reach the semi-finals only three times.
Of the 15 times Nigeria has made the semi-finals, the Eagles have gone ahead to win the title three times, picked up the silver medals four times and won bronze medals seven times.
Nigeria has also never lost a third place match at the Africa Cup of Nations, winning in Ethiopia in 1976 (against Guinea), Ghana in 1978 (against Tunisia), Senegal in 1992 (against Cameroon), Mali in 2002 (against Mali), Tunisia in 2004 (against Mali), Egypt in 2006 (against Senegal) and Angola in 2010 (against Algeria).
Nigeria have never lost against Tunisia in four games in AFCON. The only previous time both Eagles have clashed in the third place match of the Africa Cup of Nations was in 1978, but the encounter in Accra did not end as the Tunisians abandoned the match following Segun Odegbami's equalizer late in the first half. CAF duly awarded the match to Nigeria 2-0 and the Green Eagles received the bronze medals.
In other confrontations at the Africa Cup of Nations, Nigeria lashed Tunisia 4-2 in a group phase match at the 2000 finals that Nigeria and Ghana co-hosted, while Tunisia, also on home ground, edged Nigeria on penalties after their semi-final clash in Rades in 2004 was stalemated at 1-1 after regulation and extra time.
Meanwhile, former Nigeria international Friday Ekpo has urged Coach Gernot Rohr to hand opportunities to fringe Super Eagles players ahead of today's third place playoff against their Tunisian counterpart as the two teams fight for the consolatory honour of picking up a medal at the AFCON's penultimate game in Egypt.
Ekpo speaking on brila fm, said the next is to focus on players with plenty of years ahead of them and be bold enough to check them out against the Tunisian Carthage Eagles in the Third place match.
He urged the coach to still ensure the team looks competitive enough in his approach notwithstanding.
"It's a good thing playing in the Third place game as well, it gives us ample opportunity to introduce younger players into the team and giving them a chance to play. We have seen others on the bench that hasn't played but come Wednesday they should be given opportunity to play."
Read the original article on Leadership.
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