CHAN 2016: Super Eagles held by Tunisia

CHAN 2016 Nigeria vs Tunisia

Nigeria edged closer towards the quarter-final of the 2016 African Nations Championship following a hard fought 1-1 draw with Tunisia on Friday afternoon.

The Super Eagles needed another magic from tournament’s top-scorer Chisom Chikatara whose strike was cancelled by Ahmed Akaichi at the artificial turf of the Stade De Kigali, Kigali, Rwanda.

With host Rwanda and DR Congo already through, a victory would have sealed Nigeria’s place in the last eight but the Eagles had to settle for a point in a very entertaining clash.

Sunday Oliseh made three changes to the team that walloped Niger 4-1 on Tuesday.

Chikatara was rewarded for his man of the match performance with a start ahead of Tunde Adeniji, while Mohammed Usman and Austin Obaroakpo got the nod ahead of Jamiu Alimi and Bartholomew Ibenegbu.

Tunisia started the encounter with better possession of the ball limiting the Eagles to deploying counter-attacking football.

As the game progressed, both teams gradually made their intent clear with Chikatara and Aikaichi terrorising defences.

Both players had scored five goals between them before Friday’s game.

Ikechukwu Ezenwa produced a superb save in the 14th minute to deny the rampaging Akaichi.

The Nigerian no 1 was at the right place once again when Akaichi fired a beautiful shoot on target few minutes later.

Tunisia’s defensive setup made it difficult for the Eagles to penetrate with about four players attached to each Nigerian.

Akaichi thought he had put the Tunisians in front one minute before halftime when he headed in a wonderful cross – but the officials adjourned the ball to have gone out of play and awarded a goal-kick instead.

Oliseh’s side started the second-half with Orji Kalu replacing Stephen Eze.

Nigeria took a surprise lead in the 52nd minute through none other than Abia Warriors striker Chikatara.

The 21-year-old made it goal no 4 of the tournament when Osas Okoro pounced on a defensive mix-up to put him through and the youngster graciously buried it pass Rami Jaridi.

Akaichi scored his third in two games to draw the Carthage Eagles level in the 68th minute.

The Tunisian made a beautiful turn in the Nigerian box before his shot took a deflection off Orji to beat a helpless Ezenwa.

Oliseh sent in Ibenegbu for the impressive Usman who was struggling with an injury.

Akaichi was once again left unmarked in the Nigerian 18-yard box and the Tunisian almost punished the West Africans.

The game headed for a nervy finish – just when the Nigerians were hanging on for a point, the North Africans were looking for an outright win.

Nigeria remain top of Group C with four points.