Why is there a match for third place? This question is asked again and again in continental championships. After the disappointment in the semifinals, the teams have to compete again under competitive conditions. The incentive is not necessarily great and accordingly, there is always plenty of raging in order to give even the previous reservists a few minutes of use. So it will also run on Wednesday evening in the match for third place at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations between Tunisia and Nigeria.
The semi-final was an extremely bitter affair for both teams. In dramaturgy both games were unbeatable, the bigger was the disappointment after the final whistle. The game for third place is now a “chore” and we can well imagine that the players are by no means motivated to the hair tips. In the three-way market between Tunisia and Nigeria, therefore, a forecast is not recommended, because here will depend very much on the attitude. The game starts on Wednesday evening at 10 pm.
Tunisia fixed their progress with three draws in the group stage and were able to beat the big favorites from Ghana on penalties in the second round. Goalkeeper Mouez Hassen was replaced on 121 minutes as head coach Alain Giresse had a penalty killer in his own ranks with Farouk Ben Mustapha. The scene recalled the Kepa situation at Chelsea a few months ago. Hassen did not want to have it, but had to leave the field. Ben Mustapha then actually held a penalty and the cheering knew no bounds.
After the clear victory against Underdog Madagascar Mouez Hassen moved in the semi-finals again in the center of attention. In extra time, he became a tragic hero, as he averted a relatively harmless free kick only half-heartedly, while his center-back Bronn met on the head. From there, the ball jumped into the goal! Hassen was previously the acclaimed hero, as he was able to parry a penalty in minute 81 and thus made the extension possible. However, Tunisia missed a penalty miserably. A game that provided enormous spectacle in only 120 minutes despite only one goal.
Tunisia has earned the reputation of being the “Remix King” of the 2019 Africa Cup (five of the six games that have ended in the last 90 minutes without winners). Nevertheless, we do not recommend a further draw between Tunisia and Nigeria, because no one wants to complete another 30 minutes. If it is actually tight, a storm of both teams in the finish would be quite possible.
Similarly exciting and bitter was the semi-final of the Super Eagles by Gernot Rohr. The German coach had to watch in minute 95, as Manchester City star Riyad Mahrez a free-kick from just under 18 meters with full force in the Tormanneck put. Nigeria struggled against the desert foes from Algeria for a long time and had few chances from the game. Center-forward Odion Ighalo scored the interim equalizer as he kept his nerve from the penalty spot after a handball match. It was tournament hit number four – so he is now sole leader of the scorers list.
The Super Eagles from Nigeria have won the African Cup three times, most recently in 2013. However, Nigeria have not been in the last two events. An interesting statistic is that Nigeria has never lost a match for third place. Already six times Nigeria had beaten in the semifinals and was then able to keep the upper hand in the match for third place. Given these statistics is quite a tendency in the game between Tunisia and Nigeria in the direction of the tip to recognize the Rohr protégés.
A large-scale rotation will also be on the Super Eagles. This will probably not affect striker Odion Ighalo. The 30-year-old China legionnaire can secure the top scorer crown and is certainly staged by his teammates. Accordingly, Nigeria can be expected offensively and in the match for third place between Tunisia and Nigeria, a forecast for a goal-rich game under certain circumstances is highly recommended.