Tunisia to face Burkina Faso in quarterfinals
Tunisia and Burkina Faso are through to the quarterfinal stage of the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Cameroon 2021 after beating Nigeria and Gabon respectively.
The Carthage Eagles of Algeria defeated 10-man Super Eagles of Nigeria 1-0 in the Round of 16 match played at the Roumdé Adjia Stadium in Garoua on Sunday.
After a goalless first half skipper Youssef Msakni gave Tunisia the lead two minutes after recess. Maskni beat one defender and found space to shoot from outside the box. Nigerian goalkeeper Emil Okoye had a touch on the ball, but it rested in the net.
The first half was a balanced affair although the Tunisians blocked lots of the Super Eagles wing play.
Nigeria’s Moses Simon, Wilfred Ndidi and Samuel Chukwueze had all missed chances early in the first five minutes. The Eagles of Carthage defended well and made sure they dominated more of the possession play.
In the 47th minute Msakni’s goal made the difference before Nigeria’s substitute Alexander Iwobi was sent off after 66th minute.
Iwobi who plies his trade for Everton in the English Premier League had replaced Kelechi Iheanacho in the 59th minute, but his bad tackle on the Tunisian captain Msakni saw him earn an early send-off to the dressing room.
The Supers Eagles who won all their matches in the Group stage did not give up and kept pushing forward to try and get a goal, but the Tunisians defended as a unit.
Nigerian goalkeeper Okoye was on hand to punch away a well struck Naim Sliti shot after 74 minutes. Simon Moses also had a chance to level matters for Nigeria, but his freekick from outside the box missed the target. With goalkeeper beaten, Nigeria’s substitute Sadoq Umar had his shot miss the target by inches.
In the Group stage Tunisia started with a 1-0 defeat to Mali, before they humbled Mauritania 4-0. They fell 1-0 to newcomers in the AFCON stage Gambia in the last group match to only qualify as one of the best losers. For the Super Eagles they stopped Egypt 1-0, saw off Sudan 3-1 and handed Guinea Bissau a 2-0 defeat.
The Eagles of Carthage who have only won the AFCON once in 2004 will now face Burkina Faso in the quarter final stage.
The Stallions of Burkina Faso beat Gabon 7-6 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in regulation time through substitute Ismahila scored the all-important winning penalty.
Kanga, Yannis Yapende and Lloyd Palun missed for Gabon while Saidou Simpore and Abdoul Tapsoba failed to score for Burkina Faso.
The last 16 match had everything in it, a missed penalty, two disallowed goals and a sending off.
The Burkinabes started brightly against Panthers winning a penalty inside 13 minutes in the first knockout match of the tournament.
Forward Issa Kabore won the spot kick following a late challenge from Gabon’s Sidney Obissa. Bertrand Traore fired the resulting penalty against the woodwork with keeper beaten.
Patrice Neveu’s side came close to breaking the deadlock midway through the first when Boupendza’s first time volley inside the Burkinabe box came off Ibrahim Toure.
Traore scored the opener just before the half hour mark to put Burkina Faso ahead with a fine finish from Aboubacar Ouattara’s through ball.
Gabon continued to push searching for the equaliser but Kouakou Koffi denied them. The Royal Charleroi keeper pulled a smart low save to deny Boupendza.
Boupendza found the back of net for Gabon but he was flagged offside before Kouakou Koffi denied Lloyd Palun from distance to give Burkina Faso the advantage at the break.
Gabon’s diminutive midfielder Kanga was instrumental in the Panthers attack as they push forward. The Serbia based star smartly placed in Boupendza from a free kick with the forward firing straight into the Burkinabe defense.
Gabon were reduced to 10 men after the dismissal of defender Sidney Obissa for a second booking on 65 minutes.
With the numerical advantage Burkina Faso controlled the match creating numerous chances but they failed to take them.
Adama Guira scored an own on the stroke of full time to level the score for Gabon. Captain Bruno Ecuele Manga rose high to head a corner which was turned in by Adama to send the match to extra time.
The 10 men of Gabon battled to take the match into penalties with goalkeeper Jean Noel Amonome producing some brilliant saves to keep out the Stallions.
Amonome stopped Abdoul Tapsoba’s goal bound effort 10 into extra time before pulling brilliant save to keep out Ouattara’s volley.