Nigeria seek revenge against Tunisia
Nigeria will be gunning for revenge when they clash with defending champions Tunisia in the quarterfinal of the African Nations Cup in Port Said on Saturday.
Nigeria coach Austin Eguavoen said the Super Eagles were unlucky to lose to the Carthage Eagles two years ago in the semifinal of the competition in Tunis and would want to take their pound of flesh on Saturday.
“The fans tried to intimidate us before that game but we were not and we were clearly the better team on the day. The game was only settled on penalties and that we all know is a lottery and the Tunisians were luckier,” Eguavoen remembered.
“This time we want to get the job done within the 90 minutes so as not leave our fate to penalties. We have to win to stay on in the competition because if we lose, we go home.”
“We wish to pay the Tunisians back in Egypt,” said goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, who failed to stop any of the penalties fired at him by the Tunisians two years but has been superb in goal here.
“We do not expect an easy game but if we are to achieve our target of winning the cup, we will have to beat Tunisia first of all.”
The semifinal clash ended 1-1. Nigeria then lost on penalties after youngster Osaze Odemwingies failed to put away his own kick but the “Super Eagles” had taken the lead through a penalty in the 65th minute after Nwankwo Kanu was brought down by Karim Haggui on his way to goal.
In Egypt Kanu has mainly been played as a super sub, coming on in the second half to turn games against Senegal and Ghana.
And Eguavoen has insisted that the West Bromwich Albion striker will play the same role if that will propel Nigeria in their fourth successive Nations Cup semifinals.
“We are proud of Kanu and what he has brought to this team. At Ajax and even at his present club West Bromwich Albion, he comes in from the bench and turns the game around. We are happy he has been doing the same for the country,” said Eguavoen.
The other veteran in this youthful Nigerian team, 32-year-old midfielder Austin “Jay Jay” Okocha is still battling to be fit after a thigh injury kept him out of all three matches in the group stages. He was on the bench against Senegal and could well still play a role in this decisive game.
Tunisia are intact from the last tournament with the inspirational Khaled Badra the only big absentee. And they have played some scintillating football here but some critics say it was against weak opposition like South Africa and Zambia.
“We are here to successfully defend our crown,” said Roger Lemerre, the Frenchman who has introduced a European organisation to the Carthage Eagles.
Scoring goals have often hampered their campaigns at this level but since the arrival of Santos on the scene at Tunisia 2004 where he finished top scorer, that is now a thing of the past.
The 26-year-old Brazilian, who plundered a hat-trick against Zambia, is affectionately called the “Road Runner” and the Nigerian defence will most likely find why this is really so on Saturday. - Sapa-AFP