CAIRO, Egypt – Playing for a bronze medal in a third-place play-off match at the Africa Cup of Nations is not what Tunisia and Nigeria had in mind, but that will be the scenario at the Al Salam Stadium, Cairo, on Wednesday as they resume their rivalry at 21h00.
Both teams will be eager to make up for their semifinal defeats with Nigeria losing to Algeria and Tunisia suffering an extra-time blow against Senegal in their last-four match.
If Nigeria emerge winners on Wednesday night it would be their record seventh bronze medal in the competition’s history.
On paper, it is hard to choose a winner because the record books show Tunisia winning six and Nigeria five with the rest draws in the 17 times they have met over the years.
In fact, it so close that in their previous meeting at Afcon 2006, the Super Eagles (Nigeria) scraped home 6-5 on penalties after the game ended 1-1.
Tunisia's coach Alain Giresse says that their target was more than reaching the semifinals.
"But now we focus against Nigeria and hope to win the third-place. I believe this is going to be a psychologically tough encounter because we are not over that defeat from 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 Nigeria," said Giresse.
Defender Mohamed Drager added: "We were just one step away from the final but now we are playing for the third-place. Nigeria are a very strong team but we want to leave with a good memory for us and our supporters.
Nigerian coach Gernot Rohr maintains they will keep focused and hope to sign off with a positive result.
"I worked in Tunisia but on the pitch this means nothing. Both teams have similar ambitions and many young players who would like to win.
"Alain Giresse is an experienced coach and I’m always happy to play against him. When you are one of the four best teams in the continent this is a good sign and we have to build on it. Tunisia is a team with a brilliant future."
Striker Alex Iwobi had this view. "We always learn lessons from our mistakes. We are a young team and hope to return home with bronze medals. We will approach the game with respect and seriousness."
African News Agency (ANA)