Nigeria boss Eguavoen urges players to be on alert against powerhouse Tunisia

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Nigeria boss Augustine Eguavoen warned his squad to be on thei guard for an underestimated Tunisia side keen to make a statement during their last 16 clash at the Africa Cup of Nations.

The teams, who meet in Garoua on Sunday night, had contrasting fortunes during the group stages.

Tunisia lost in controversial circumstances to Mali, beat Mauritania and the lost to Gambia to enter the knockout stages as one of the four best third-placed teams.

Nigeria romped through Group D beating Egypt, Sudan and Guinea Bissau to finish as the only team with maximum points. The feat earned Eguavoen the accolade as coach of the group stages.

Caution

But with plaudits ringing in the ears of the coach and squad, the former Nigeria international said recent success should not disorientate them.

“Tunisia might have struggled during the pool matches but they are a powerhouse,” insisted Eguavoen head of the match at the Stade Roumdé Adjia.

“We have to have the same approach and same aggression as in our previous matches. And we mustn’t think that just because it hasn’t been going well for Tunisia in other games that it will be the same against us. They might play well against us.”

Tunisia won their only Cup of Nations crown in 2004. They reached the semi finals under Alain Giresse in 2019 and lost wthe third place play-off to Nigeria.

Pride

"The Tunisia national team has a history, experience and quality,” said assistant coach Jalel Kadri.

“Our ambitions are high. We have experience and confidence in ourselves.

“It’s true that during the first phase of this competition, Nigeria were very successful but we fear no one."

Midfielder Aissa Laidouni deployed martial language ahead of hte clash. "We had chances to win in our other games and we must try to be more effective. We have soldiers ... brothers ready to go to war."

The winner of the game will face the victor of the clash in Limbé between Burkina Faso and Gabon who finished second in Group A and C respectively.

Gabon have been praised for their journey after losing skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and midfielder Mario Lemina who tested positive for Covid-19 before the tournament and were then allowed to return to their clubs after medical checks detected problems with their hearts.

They will be seeking a slot in the quarter-finals for the first time since 2012 when they co-hosted the tournament with Equatorial Guinea.

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