…Chikatara Gets 4th Goal Of The Tournament
The battle of the Eagles ended in a stalemate in Kigali as the north Africans pulled back the west Africans late in the game
Tunisia held Nigeria to a 1-1 draw in Kigali on Friday to leave Group C open until the final day of proceedings.
Ahmed Akaichi’s 70th minute equaliser canceled out Chisom Chikatara’s opening goal as the game ended in a stalemate, which leaves Nigeria with four points on top of the table, stalling any hopes of early qualification into the knock out stages.
Tunisia’s hopes of reaching the quarter finals also remain alive as they have two points and face Niger in their last match.
Coach Sunday Oliseh made three changes to his starting line up as Chikatara took the place of Tunde Adeniji, Austin Oboroakpo in place of Jamiu Alimi in defence and Usman Muhammed came on in place of Bartholomew Ibenegbu in midfield.
In a game that was not short of exciting moments, Tunisia took the early initiative going on target twice but Akaichi’s attempts were kept out by the strong hands of Ikechukwu Ezenwa in the Nigeria goal.
The Tunisians thought they had taken the lead with an Akaichi header but the referee’s assistant raised the flag against the cross from Mohammed Ben Amor that was adjudged to have crossed the touch line. Protests from Ben Amor earned the winger a yellow card, the only caution in an otherwise free-flowing game.
Nigeria’s only attempt in the first half was a strike from Ifeanyi Matthew which ricocheted off a Tunisia defender but goalkeeper Rami Jridi stayed alert to punch it out.
Oliseh made an early change in the second half as he brought on Orji Okagbue for Stephen Eze in defence.
This strengthened the otherwise shaky Eagles backline as they launched forward with greater confidence.
Seven minutes after the restart, Osas Okoro, with a typical defence-prying pass, found Chikatara free in front of the Tunisian box and the striker’s shot was deflected away from the goalkeeper for Nigeria’s opener.
It was Chikatara’s fourth goal of the tournament.
The Tunisians fought bravely and it would be minutes later when they found the Nigerian weakness.
A cross from the right into the Nigerian box by Ali Mancer was met by Hicham Essifi’s header which fell to Akaichi, the deadly striker was allowed enough space to turn and shoot at goal, which was helped in by a defender’s leg.
Akaichi has now scored three goals.
The game petered out with several attempts from both sides but without any further incident.