Nigeria vs Tunisia head-to-head record: Both Eagles finely balanced on 6 wins each with 7 draws
By Otite Dafe
It is a meeting of two Eagles, Nigeria’s Super Eagles taking on the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia at the Jacques Arena in Austria on Tuesday evening in what will be their third-ever meeting in an international friendly match with both teams having on 6 occasions and drawn 7 of 19 previous encounters.
Here is how it has gone down the years. Nigeria ran out 2-0 winners the first-ever time these two nations met in the Surulere Stadium, Lagos, in 1961 during the 1962 AFCON qualifying series. It was the Carthage Eagles who made it to the tournament proper in controversial circumstances, though.
Nigeria were 2-1 up at the Stade Chedly Zouiten in Tunis when a hotly debated Tunisian equaliser forced a Nigerian walkout in the 65th minute. Tunisia was thus awarded a 2–0 win and qualified for the final by an aggregate score of 3–2.
The North Africans yet again proved to be Nigeria’s nemesis during the qualification rounds of the 1978 FIFA World Cup. The Green Eagles pulled off a credible scoreless draw in Tunisia only to suffer a 1-0 sucker-punch at home in the return fixture.
The two nations continued their acrimonious face-offs at the third-place match of the 11th edition of the African Cup of Nations tagged Ghana ’78. Mohamed Amid gave the Tunisians a 19th-minute lead, but Baba Otu Mohammed equalized for the Nigerians just before halftime to the displeasure of their opponents.
Unable to contain their anger, Tunisia players walked off in protest of the officiating. As a result, CAF awarded Nigeria a 2-0 win, and Tunisia were banned from the next tournament.
In July 1980, nearly 20 years after their first win, Nigeria finally recorded their second victory over Tunisia, winning 2-0 in Lagos two weeks after losing by the same scoreline in Tunis.
But it was the West Africans who advanced on penalties to the second round of the 1982 FIFA World Cup qualifying series.
A first international friendly match was organised in 1984 between the two nations to smoothen strained relations. Still, it turned out to be a sad day for the Green Eagles with Tunisia claiming a 5-0 win, their biggest victory over the Nigerians.
Nigeria quickly put the loss behind them the following year, with a 1-0 victory during another World Cup qualifier. But the North Africans responded with a 2-0 win a fortnight later.
A second international friendly match ended 1-1 in 1992 before Tunisia, as host, defeated Nigeria 2-0 in the final of the inaugural edition of the LG Cup in 1997.
Nigeria, co-host of AFCON 2000 with Ghana, shared Group D with Tunisia. A brace each from the mercurial Austin Okocha and Victor Ikpeba helped the Super Eagles to a 4-2 win in front of over 80,000 spectators at the National Stadium in Lagos.
Jay Jay Okocha was voted the best player at Tunisia 2004, but it was the host who dumped the Nigerians out of the tournament on penalties after full-time scores stood at 1-1.
A similar result was repeated at the next edition in Egypt, but it was Nigeria’s turn to edge past the Carthage Eagles on penalties.
Three more draws followed between the two nations between 2009 and 2016 before the fixture sprung up again last year at the third-place match of the African Cup of Nations. Odion Ighalo’s third-minute strike at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo was all the Super Eagles needed to power past Algeria and secure the tournament’s bronze medal.
Tuesday’s meeting at the Jacques Lehmans Arena in Austria will be the 20th face-off between the two nations in what promises to be another closely fought encounter.
The game kicks off at 7:30 pm Nigerian time and will be shown live on Supersport.