The exhilarating match played at Al Salam Stadium in northern Cairo, Egypt, and monitored in Blantyre on You Tube, lived to its billing as the football pride of North and West Africa was at stake.
The battle of the titans though was fought under excruciating heat of 32 degrees celsius still produced fireworks in the field of play.
Barely two minutes of play Nigeria’s left back Jamilu Collins who plays for German club SC Paderborn 07, launched an attack and rounded several defenders before crossing the ball. The defensive lapse at Tunisia’s goal mouth gave an opportunity for Nigeria’s shirt number 9 Odion Ighalo to score the lone goal of the match from close range.
The Carthage Eagles were on the verge of equalizing five minutes later but Taha Yassine Khenissi missed the target.
The second half saw Tunisians exerting pressure but the Super Eagles were very comfortable at the back and denied their opponents any opportunity to level the score line.
In the dying minutes of the match, a see-saw of counter attacks kept the fans on the edge of their seats. Ellyes Skhiri's header almost cancelled Nigeria’s lead but Peter Etebo dramatically cleared the ball off the line. On the other hand Tunisia goalkeeper Moez Ben Cherifia blocked Samuel Chukwueze's effort to keep the score at 1-0 till the final whistle.
In this 32nd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, Nigeria carts home a bronze medal and Odion Ighalo who plays professional football as a striker for Chinese club Shanghai Greenland Shenhua leads the top goal scorers' sheet with five goals and one assists from seven games.
The jubilant Super Eagles after clinching the bronze medal
Twenty four teams qualified for the continental football showpiece and the defending champions, Cameroon, were knocked out by Nigeria in a thrilling 3-2 encounter while South Africa (Bafana Bafana) shocked the hosts Egypt by handing them a 1-0 defeat in the round of 16.
July 19 is a do or die in this competition. North vs West, as Lions of Teranga Senegal takes on the Desert Foxes of Algeria in AFCON 2019 final match. The continent is waiting! Nigeria’s Super Eagles fly back to Abuja with bronze.