Nigeria’s Interim Coach at this year’s African Cup of Nations, Augustine Eguavoen says the Tunisian national team adopted a tactical approach to stop his team from sailing through to the next round as Nigeria fell to a shock 1-0 defeat in Garoua on Sunday.
Prior to the Round of 16 showdown staged at the Roumde Adjia Stadium, the West Africans were favourites to scale through, judging by their impressive form in the group stage – where they kept a perfect record.
However, it was the North Africans who made the best of the night as Youssef Mskani stunning second-half goal ended the Super Eagles journey at the biennial showpiece.
Speaking in the wake of his side’s disappointing defeat, Eguavoen explained how the Carthage Eagles were able to stop Nigeria from advancing into the next round.
“We came into the game very strong – the Tunisians respected us, and we respected them as well,” Eguavoen told the media.
“They formed their defence on a low block, then our ball movement from the defence to the midfield and then into the attacking position was sometimes slow.
“That gave them the opportunity to always recover and double up on [Moses] Simon and [Samuel] Chukwueze.
“We spoke about it when the game was on, it didn’t still improve. We discussed this at the end of the first half and in the second half, the movement of the ball became a little bit faster.
“But be that as it may, I think the Tunisians also formed a low block which was a little bit difficult to crack down.
“I will say congratulations to them but I will say our boys gave all their best, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
The last time Nigeria failed to get to the quarter-final of the biennial African football showpiece was at Libya 1982 as Otto Gloria’s Green Eagles failed to get past the group stage.
They have reached the semi-finals in 14 of their last 16 Afcon participations, winning the tournament on three occasions.
Eguavoen’s men are expected to shift attention to their 2022 World Cup qualification play-off clash against Ghana in March.