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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2021: Nigeria 0-1 Tunisia — What did we learn?

7:04 PM IST 24/01/22
William Troost-Ekong, Ahmed Musa - Nigeria Super Eagles
The North Africans eliminated the Super Eagles in Sunday’s Round of 16 encounter in Garoua

  • Samuel Chukwueze, Youssef Msakni - Nigeria vs Tunisia

    Nigeria 0-1 Tunisia

    Despite winning all their group stage games, the three-time African champions were beaten by a Tunisia side that were loaded with positive coronavirus tests.

    Augustine Eguavoen’s side were heavy favourites to progress to the quarter-finals, but Youssef Msakni’s goal just after half-time put paid to Nigeria’s prospects of claiming a fourth Africa Cup of Nations crown.

    In this feature, we highlight a few reactions following the Super Eagles’ exit.

  • Temitayo Aina of Nigeria dejected during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

    Weak response to going behind

    Admittedly, Alex Iwobi’s 66th-minute sending off made things doubly difficult for the Super Eagles, yet Tunisia’s preference for containment meant the West Africans still had the upper hand.

    Regardless, very little was created in the subsequent half-hour, although Moses Simon and Umar Sadiq had chances to level.

    Some wondered how Nigeria would react to going behind at Afcon 2021, having led in all three group stage games, and they got their answer on Sunday.

  • Sadiq Torino

    Umar Sadiq’s cameo showed promise

    The Almeria frontman had been widely criticised following previous showings since his debut against Egypt, but Sunday’s display offered some encouragement.

    Sadiq won every one-v-one tussle in those 16 minutes and could have levelled for the West African giants late on for his second Nigeria goal.

    While he may be a step below Victor Osimhen, judging the frontman after a handful of appearances will be ill-advised.

    Fans are yet to witness the full Sadiq experience.

  • Moses Simon

    Shackling Simon dulled Nigeria

    Moses Simon had been the competition’s finest performer hitherto Sunday’s encounter, so there was always going to be a plan to render him ineffectual.

    There was an obvious inclination to double-team the Nantes wide attacker — and by extension, Samuel Chukwueze — thus curbing Nigeria’s effectiveness from wide positions.

    Eguavoen’s troops mostly attacked down the flanks, so limiting their wingers meant the three-time champions carried almost no threat as there was little central invention.

  • Ola AIna, Youssef Msakni - Nigeria vs Tunisia

    Nigeria need a left-back to match Aina’s brilliance

    While Ola Aina’s missed interception led to Tunisia’s goal, the right-back was largely impressive on the day.

    He was one of the nation’s shining lights at the finals, further raising questions over the inconsistent appearances under the previous manager.

    Neither Zaidu Sanusi nor Jamilu Collins offers the Torino wide defender’s skill set and dominance in duels, often resulting in little productivity from left-back.

    Aina is primed to be a mainstay in Nigeria’s squad for years to come, but the Eagles must find a dependable body on the other side.

  • Kelechi Nwakali - Nigeria

    Nwakali was missed

    Of course, starting with Joe Aribo and Wilfred Ndidi was understandable, while the circumstances and flow of the game meant Kelechi Nwakali was unneeded, his passing range from deeper positions and vision were missed.

    These characteristics were evident in his group stage displays, something Eguavoen could have done with as they lacked invention down the middle in their defeat by Tunisia.