Youssef Msakni scored with a long-range shot to hand Covid-hit Tunisia an improbable 1-0 win over 10-man Nigeria in Garoua on Sunday to advance to the Africa Cup of Nations 준준결승.
Their captain powered home a low shot from outside the penalty area two minutes into the second half to bundle Nigeria out of the tournament.
Nigeria had been the only side to win all three of their games in the group phase and were overwhelming favourites as Tunisia battled without seven players, who were isolating.
But Tunisia, who also had to do without coach Mondher Kebaier because of Covid, advanced to meet Burkina Faso in next Saturday’s quarter-final, also in Garoua.
There were few chances in the game with Tunisia producing a stout defensive performance and looking for counterattacking opportunities. Nigeria were unable to get any flow to their play, despite having beaten Egypt, Sudan and Guinea Bissau in their earlier games.
They were reduced to 10 men when Alex Iwobi was sent off for a dangerous tackle in the 66th minute, seven minutes after coming on. The referee originally handed him a caution but was encouraged to review the sanction on the pitchside VAR screen, changed his mind and sent Iwobi off.
The 31-year-old Msakni, competing in his seventh Cup of Nations finals but starting his first match of the tournament, was given time to line up his shot and it swerved to catch out Maduka Okoye, who only managed to get a hand to it.
“We got punished for one mistake,* said Nigeria coach Augustine Eguavoen. “Alex should not have been given a red card but the referee saw it differently. But congratulations to Tunisia.”
It was a remarkable turnaround for the north Africans, who had lost two of their three opening round games, including an embarrassing 1-0 defeat to Gambia three days ago.
Nigeria threw players forward near the end and substitute Umar Sadiq might well have forced a stoppage-time equaliser but his effort went agonisingly wide of the goal.
Burkina Faso held off a gallant rearguard action from 10-man Gabon to advance to the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals with a 7-6 victory on penalties after a 1-1 draw in their last-16 tie in Limbe on Sunday.
Ismahila Ouédraogo netted the decisive kick after an incident-packed and energy sapping clash.
After Burkina Faso’s captain, Bertrand Traoré, scored early, 10-man Gabon took the match into extra-time following a dramatic last-minute equaliser. But in the end the Burkinabé held their nerve in a dramatic shootout.
The first goal came after Traoré ran on to a defence-splitting pass from teenager Dango Ouattara to hit home with a left-footed effort from outside the penalty area in the 28th minute, as he beat the Gabon defence and the onrushing goalkeeper, with his effort sneaking in off the post.
It made up for a penalty Traoré squandered some 11 minutes earlier when he crashed his effort against the crossbar – the ninth failed penalty attempt at the tournament in Cameroon.
The penalty was conceded by Gabon centre-back Sidney Obissa, who picked up a second caution in the 67th minute for holding back an attacker and was sent off, leaving his teammates down to 10 men for almost an hour.
Traoré was continually threatening on the counterattack and Ouattara also had chances on the break as Gabon were caught often as they tried to sweep forward in searching of an equaliser.
Gabon striker Aaron Boupendza had the ball in the net four minutes before half-time but was marginally offside and their goalkeeper Jean-Noel Amonome also blocked a close-range effort from Blati Touré and Adama Guira in an action-filled final 10 의사록.
And it was Guira who was credited with an own goal after Gabon captain Bruno Ecuele Manga timed his run perfectly into the penalty area to power his header goalwards and rescue his side.
The match needed 18 penalties with both sides squandering chances to win it before substitute Ouédraogo hit the winner.