BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
Both Nigeria and Tunisia may have set eyes on the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations title, but they are now compelled to play the consolatory third place match which is often unattractive to big teams.
But they have the honour of having to compete to have a podium finish.
This Friday’s match will be their sixth encounter since both first met in Lagos 43 years ago.
At the time, Nigeria’s Flying Eagles were handled by Yugoslavian coach, Tihomir Jelisavčić, better known as Father Tiko.
He had then been relegated from handling the senior team. He was assisted by former IICC Shooting Stars’ captain, Samuel Ojebode.
They had a potent forward that included Henry Nwosu and Adegoke Adelabu. The Flying Eagles won the 26 December 1980 match 4-0 in Lagos.
But Tunisia almost turn the table in the return leg. They won 4-1 on 11 January 1981.
They met again in the final matches of the 1985 qualifiers in what was then the contest for the Tessema Cup – the trophy named after the then CAF president, Yidnekatchew Tessema.
The Nigeria offensive was built around Samson Siasia. They drew 1-1 away in Tunisia on 21 April 1985 and won the return leg, 2-1 in Lagos on 4 May 1985 to get their second African title after that of 1983.
Both teams last met 10 years ago. Tunisia won the 28 February 2013 encounter 2-0.
At the ongoing tournament, Nigeria have had a better defence line in comparison to Tunisia.
While Nigeria conceded just two goals in their 1-0 losses to eventual finalists, Senegal and Gambia, the Tunisians have had to retrieve the ball from their own nets eight times and scored five goals.
Like Nigeria, Tunisia lost to both Gambia, 1-0 at the group stage and then 3-0 to Senegal at the semi-finals.
Flying Eagles – Tunisia U20 head-to-head
- 26 Dec. 1980 Nigeria 4-0 Tunisia.
- 11 Jan. 1981 Tunisia 4-1 Nigeria.
- 21 Apr. 1985 Tunisia 1-1 Nigeria
- 4 May 1985 Nigeria 2-1 Tunisia
- 28 Feb 2013 Tunisia 2-0 Nigeria