We have reached the very latter stages of the Africa Cup of Nations and on Wednesday evening we will find out which side picks up the bronze medals for the tournament when Tunisia take on Nigeria in the third placed play-off.
As ever this is a match that neither side really want to play in having suffered the heartache of losing in the semi-finals but someone has to leave with the unwanted honour of finishing third so it will be interesting to find out who that is.
It might be that Tunisia are the side feeling the more sorry for themselves having lost their semi-final in extra time to an own goal. In many ways their tournament deserved to end in disappointment because they have not impressed me at any stage in the competition, but that way is still a little harsh. Their record in this third placed match in the past is not very good and you just wonder if they will be able to get up for this renewal.
Tunisia have found wins hard to come by in this tournament. Although they made the semi-finals the only time they won a match inside the 90 minutes was in the quarter final against Madagascar, a side who might well have reached the end of their shelf life in the competition. At least they can play with a freedom and a relaxed manner although they weren’t exactly convincing when offered that situation in Russia last year.
Ultimately I guess you could say the luck of the draw went against Nigeria. They ran into Algeria in the semi-final who for my money at least have been the best team in the tournament, and only lost to them with a special strike from Riyad Mahrez in injury time. They offered plenty in that match did Nigeria and while disappointment will reign over their defeat in that contest, they can have no regrets at the graft and level of performance they put in.
Nigeria have shown a freedom and a free-flowing will to get forward in this competition and have regular found the back of the net, but that entertaining style has left them a little open and exposed at the other end at times. Nigeria have a wonderful record in this match. They won’t have wanted to have competed in it on six previous occasions but the fact they have won all six suggests that coming third means something to them.
Both sides are expected to make changes to their side after a bit of a hectic few weeks so picking the teams in advance is not going to be easy. Leverkusen youngster Marc Lamti could be one brought into the Tunisia set up.
There looked to be a few tired legs in the Nigeria camp during their loss to Algeria in the semi-final so it would make sense for them to freshen things up. Everton forward Henry Onyekuru could be one who comes into the side.
No third placed match is one to go too mad on but I can’t help but like Nigeria in this one. Their immaculate record in previous outings in this contest has to stand for something because six wins from six is no a record of coincidence. By the same token Tunisia’s weak record in it probably suggests plenty as well and might well give us a clue as to where the motivation could lie here.
With Nigeria seemingly having the edge in that department and looking much the better side of the two based on the matches we have already seen in this tournament, it makes perfect sense to have the Super Eagles on side here. I can’t believe either team is going to want extra time here so this is one of those occasions where the straight win offers up a better betting experience.
WON – Back Nigeria to beat Tunisia for a 4/10 stake at 2.50 with Betfair
Back them here: