Sixteen years ago, when Coach Augustine Eguavoen led the Super Eagles to the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Egypt, one of his biggest challenges came from Tunisia.
Then, the Eagles had topped their group with maximum nine points in three matches, just as they did in the ongoing AFCON in Cameroun. To get pass the quarterfinals, Eguavoen and his army had to beat the North Africans in Port Sa’id, an Egyptian city in the northern end of Suez Canal on the Mediterranean Sea. The victory did not come easy.
A sixth-minute goal by Victor Nsofor was cancelled by Karim Haggui, forcing the game to end 1-1, after goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama saved two penalties awarded the Tunisians during regular play. Enyeama became the match hero, when he saved two more penalties during the shootout to hand the Super Eagles a semi-final ticket. That was in 2006.
Today, the Eguavoen-led Eagles will face the Tunisians today in the battle for the quarterfinal. For goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, this battle of Garoau may be tough, but the Super Eagles is fully prepared to cage the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia, who struggled to scale the group stage.
Speaking with The Guardian after their training session on Thursday, Akpeyi said: “This tournament has witnessed a lot of surprises and more surprises will still come. We are taking the games as they come. There are no minnows in African football, so we prepare well for every opponent.
“Our technical crew led by Coach Eguavoen is working hard to see that we win this trophy and put smiles on the faces of Nigerians. Any team that comes our ways will fall. We are members of one big family, and it doesn’t matter who is playing and who is on the bench. We plan together and my prayer is that we lift the AFCON trophy come February 6,” Akpeyi stated.