A Covid-hit Tunisian side pulled off the improbable on Sunday to break Nigerian hearts in the night's Round of 16 clash after Burkina Fason had booked a quarter-final place with a win over Gabon. The Carthage Eagles defied the bookies prediction to send the Super Eagles packing by scoring a lone goal to book a quarter-final spot.
Ahead of the match-up, Nigeria was heavily favored to progress after being the been the only side to win all three of their group stage. On the contrary, Tunisia approached the encounter as the undergoes and had their chances of securing a win harmed by the unavailability of their coach Mondher Kebaier and seven players who were isolating for contracting the Covid-19 virus. Needless to say, their plight did not stop them from putting in a remarkable defensive display to keep their opponents at bay.
The resolute nature of the North Africans proved to be rewarding in the early minutes of the second half as veteran striker Youssef Msakni will score what will be the eventual game-winner from long range. The 31-year-old striker had all the time in the world to hit a powerful dipping shot from 25 yards out, catching young goalkeeper Maduka Okoye off guard and finding its way into the back of the net despite the latter's attempt to parry it clear.
Nigeria then had their quest to manage a comeback being complicated after substitute Alex Iwobi was sent off in the 66th minute. The Everton attacker, who had been on the pitch for just seven minutes and initially received a yellow card for the offense, was shown a red after a VAR review indicated that he left his studs on Msakni as he controlled the ball.
With the Super Eagles failing to manage an equalizer, Tunisia sailed through and booked a quarter-final date with Burkina Faso on Saturday. After a 1-1 draw in their last-16 clash in Limbe on Sunday, the Stallions held off a valiant 10-man Gabon to progress to the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals with a 7-6 triumph on penalties.
Following an action-packed and electricity clash, Ismahila Ouédraogo scored the decisive penalty after the extra time failed to produce a goal. aBertrand Traoré, who had missed a penalty kick earlier in the game. fired Burkina Faso's ahead in the 28th minute before Gabon's 10-man team forced extra time with a stunning last-minute equaliser.