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AFCON PREVIEW: Super VS Carthage — which Eagles will soar higher?

AFCON PREVIEW: Super VS Carthage — which Eagles will soar higher?
January 23
08:36 2022

Nigeria and Tunisia will reignite their rivalry in the round of 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) when they square up against each other later today.

It will be their first encounter since 2020 when the spoils were shared in a 1-1 draw.

The Carthage Eagles will be hoping to get one over their West African counterparts, having failed to win any of their last seven meetings.

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Both sides have met a total of 20 times, with six wins each and a draw on eight occasions.

The Super Eagles have everything going for them so far in this tournament. They are the only team to secure all nine points on offer in the group stage.

Tunisia sneaked into the round of 16 as one of the best-ranked third-placed teams. They finished third in Group F, having managed to garner only three points from three matches.

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The North Africans opened their campaign with a 1-0 loss to Mali before thrashing Mauritania 4-0.

The Carthage Eagles then fell to a 1-0 defeat to Gambia in their final group game. Ablie Jallow scored the winning goal in injury time.

Nigeria head into the tie unbeaten in their last six games across all competitions, picking up five wins and one draw while scoring 11 goals and keeping five clean sheets.

While they will seek to maintain the fine run and progress to the next stage of the competition, standing in their way is an opposing side who haven’t been impressive in Cameroon but are determined to rewrite the narrative.

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Ahead of the game, the Super Eagles have a clean bill of health; no suspension and COVID-19 concerns, meaning Augustine Eguavoen has a full-strength squad at his disposal.

Former FC Porto defender Chidozie Awaziem is the only Nigerian outfield player yet to get minutes in the competition, having initially faced fitness issues. The versatile player has, however, returned to full fitness and could be set to feature.

Eguavoen made eight changes to the side that played against Guinea-Bissau with qualification already assured. He is likely to revert to his strongest lineup for this crucial clash.

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For Tunisia, the round of 16 clash couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Reserve goalkeeper Ben Mustapha is suspended due to his red card against Gambia. Hamza Mathlouthi is also suspended due to accumulated yellow cards.

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The Tunisian camp was hit by a COVID-19 outbreak before their final group game against Gambia. As many as 12 players have been infected and will not be available for the game against Nigeria.

If there is no positive news regarding the COVID-19 cases, the trio of Aissa Laidouni, Ellyes Skhiri and Anis Ben Slimane will be tasked with winning the midfield battle for the second game running.

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Nigeria’s possible starting lineup: Maduka Okoye, Ola Aina, Zaidu Sanusi, William Troost-Ekong, Kenneth Omeruo, Wilfred Ndidi, Joe Aribo, Kelechi Iheanacho, Moses Simon, Samuel Chukwueze, Taiwo Awoniyi.

Tunisia’s possible starting lineup: Hamza Mathlouthi, Bilel Ifa, Montassar Talbi, Ali Abdi, Anis Slimane, Ellyes Skhiri, Aissa Laidouni, Hannibal Mejbri, Youssef Msakni, Seifeddine Jaziri.

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