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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2021: Nigeria's Yobo questions 'harsh' Iwobi red card against Tunisia

13:31 IST 24/01/2022
Nigeria, Tunisia, Alex Iwobi
The Super Eagles assistant coach feels the midfielder’s challenge wasn’t as bad to have warranted dismissal against the Carthage Eagles

Coach Joseph Yobo claimed Alex Iwobi should not have been sent off for his challenge on Youssef Msakni during Nigeria’s 1-0 defeat to Tunisia in Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations Round of 16 fixture.

With the Super Eagles trailing against the North Africans, the 25-year-old was thrown into the fray for Kelechi Iheanacho in the 59th minute.

However, he was sent off seven minutes later for a needless challenge on the Carthage Eagles’ captain. Iwobi was initially issued a caution, however, referee Maguette Ndiaye reversed his decision after checking VAR.

Following the three-time African kings being reduced to 10 men, they struggled to impress and returned home with heads bowed low.

That decision did not go well with Yobo, who stated that it ruined Nigeria’s chances of launching a comeback.

“I went to the assistant referee and I asked him, and he said it was a collision. Fair enough, there was no intent to hurt anybody because it was in the middle of the park,” Yobo told GOAL in the mixed zone.

“We can look at it from different angles, but it was harsh in my own opinion – a yellow card would have been fair.

“We haven’t seen the replay, but the red card changed everything for us. Iwobi is a top player, and he could have added a lot of value to the team.

“I haven’t seen the replay but with what I saw from the bench, the decision was a little bit harsh.”

Having failed in their expedition to win a fourth African title, Nigeria will now shift their focus on the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifying play-off against Ghana.

The former Super Eagles captain is hoping his players recover from their disappointment to face the Black Stars en route to qualifying for the global football showpiece in Qatar.

“It is for the boys and for everybody to recover from it and shift attention to Ghana, but everyone is really disappointed,” he continued.

“We gave so much of a good account of ourselves in the group stage and made Nigerians and everyone believe in our football again. So, to lose out in this way really hurts.

“I just wished we had 11 players till the end of the game, it would have been a different outcome.”