Tunisia and Nigeria will go head to head for the bronze at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations tonight at 21:00 (CET).
The Al Asam Stadium in Cairo will host the third-place play off between Tunisia and Nigeria, the penultimate game of the 2019 AFCON.
Nigeria suffered a 95th-minute heartbreak in the semi-finals against Algeria, when Riyad Mahrez netted a stunning free-kick with the very last kick of the game.
Tunisia also lost to Senegal in a pretty unfortunate fashion, with Ferjani Sassi missing a penalty to take the lead in the 76th minute and Dylan Bronn netting an own goal in the extra time to send the Lions of Teranga in the big final.
Both sides have almost fully fit squads before their final game of the tournament, as Nigeria coach Rohr is likely to be tempted to make changes in order to enhance the experience of several of his younger talents.
🔴⚪ Il restera tout de même un match pour la troisième place à disputer pour la sélection nationale face au Nigéria mercredi prochain. #Tunisie
Youssef Msakni (adducteur) et Mouez Hassen (coup reçu à la tête) sont forfaits pour ce match. #TUNNIG🇹🇳🇳🇬 #CAN2019 pic.twitter.com/R8RGGidTSl
— Tunisie Football (@tunisiefootball) July 15, 2019
Tunisia’s only concern may be the fitness of forward Youssef Msakni, who was replaced at half-time in their defeat to Senegal.
However, Msakni is expected to be ready in time and be available for selection in tonight’s game at the Al Asam Stadium in Cairo.
What did the managers say
Alain Giresse said Tunisia’s players have to get over the defeat to Senegal and concentrate on the third-place game against the Super Eagles.
“Our target was more than just reaching the semifinal. But now we focus on the game against Nigeria and hope to win third place,” Giresse told reporters at the Al Salam Stadium.
“I believe this is going to be a psychologically tough encounter because we are not over that defeat by Senegal yet. I cannot say all our players are fit after playing two extra-times, but we will do our best.
“This is football and we understand the whole team’s disappointment. But we have to forget that and focus on the Nigeria game.”
— AFCON (@AFCON2019) July 15, 2019
Nigeria head coach Gernot Rohr said he was satisfied from his players’ performance in the semi-final defeat against Algeria last Sunday.
“After our defeat to Algeria, we were a bit disappointed because it’s disappointing when you lose a game in the last seconds,” he told a news conference via AS.
“We’ve analysed the match, we saw the video with the players yesterday [Monday] and we saw also it was a good match and we gave a good fight. The statistics were even better for us because we had 11 shots on goal, they had only six.
“We had better possession of the ball against probably the best team so far in the tournament. So, losing to them is not a shame and we have to be positive as we want to finish this competition well together.”
The head-to-head record between both sides is pretty close, with Nigeria leading with five wins compared to Tunisia’s four.
However, the last time we’ve had a winner in regular or extra time in the encounters between the Super Eagles and the Eagles of Carthage was 19 years ago when Nigeria won 4-2 in the 2000 AFCON group stage.
Tunisia has won the third place only once in history, it was in their first-ever appearance at the competition back in 1962.
Nigeria, on the other side, will be looking to win their eight bronze at the Africa Cup of Nations.
They’ve finished in third four times in their last six appearances (in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2010) and finally won the competition in 2013, but failed to qualify for the final two editions of the AFCON (in 2015 and 2017) since then.