PREVIEW: Tunisia vs Nigeria – Bouncing back from late defeats

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After two late semi-final defeats, both Tunisia and Nigeria will be battling it out for the bronze and bragging rights.

The two teams will be hoping to bounce back from their disappointing semi-final outings, which saw Senegal and Algeria advance to the final.

Tunisia have been on great form since losing their first two fixtures at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, despite proving a challenge for England who narrowly won 2-1 in their opening match.

However, a late defeat to Senegal was just a reminder of their luck in this tournament. Tunisia conceded all of their goals during the Africa Cup of Nations in the final third of all matches, with both of the goals scored against them in the knockout stages coming after the 90th minute.

Before their semi-final loss, their coach Alain Giresse, who is also a former Footballer of the Year in France, led his team to just one defeat in 10 games.

Nigeria are on the same page with their upcoming rivals as they too faced a nail-biter of a game against Algeria.

A 94th-minute struck free-kick by none other than Riyad Mahrez was enough to end the Super Eagles’ hopes of grasping the title. The Algerian’s goal proved to be the deciding moment that ended a fruitful campaign in which Nigeria knocked out the reigning champions Cameroon 3-2 before seeing off an upwardly mobile South Africa 2-1.

Algeria have been arguably the best team in the tournament this year, but Nigeria will feel frustrated not to have held on to the parity provided byย Odion Ighalo’s 72nd-minute penalty, awarded for handball following a lengthy VAR check.

Nigeria may feel they have a point to prove in the settler for bronze after an underwhelming semi-final showing that resulted in their second loss of the tournament, following up a shock group-stage setback when they slumped to a 2-0 defeatย against Madagascar.

They have not won by more than a single goal in any of their matches and, having kept four straight clean sheets in the build-up to that loss to Madagascar, have now conceded in four of their last five games.

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๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ณ Tunisia Team News

Tunisia manager Alain Giresse could make changes after his side failed to make the final following a 1-0 defeat to Senegal in the semi-finals.

Fringe players like Anice Badri, Ayman Ben Mohamed, Farouk Ben Mustapha and Naim Sliti will hope to benefit from any rotation.

Predicted Line-up (4-3-3)

Mustapha
Drager, Bronn, Meriah, Haddadi
Mohamed, Skhiri, Chaalali
Badri, Khenissi, Sliti

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๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Nigeria Team News

Nigeria are also expected to make changes to their team after the sem-final defeat to Algeria.

Chidozie Awaziem is suspended for the match. His replacement is likely to be Ola Aina while Odion Ighalo could retain his place in attack as he looks to add to his four goals in the race for the golden boot.

Predicted Line-up (4-2-3-1)

Akpeyi
Aina, Troost-Ekong, Omeruo, Collins
Ndidi, Etebo
Chukwueze, Iwobi, Musa
Ighalo

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Head-to-Head Record

These two sides tend to draw with one another; pretty much all of the time. Nigeria beat Tunisia 4-2ย backย in January 2000, but since then neither side has claimed a victory in normalย or extra time.

With penalties being the only way to separate the pair over the past 19 years, it could well be another close game on Wednesday night.

Match Odds

Both teams will still be reeling from their dramatic exits from the competition, but they have to put in one final performance in this tournament. Nigeria have improved duringย the competition, while Tunisia’s only impressive display came against a plucky, but inferior, Madagascar side.

Nigeria will be slightly less fresh than their opponents, but they have the attacking quality to break down the stubborn Tunisian defence and claim third place on Wednesday night. We will just have to wait and see if they are truly up for the challenge or just heartbroken from a cruel exit.

*Odds are subject to change | Play Responsibly | 18+

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