BY STEVE AYOO
Nigeria boss Gernot Rohr has urged his side to claim the third best team price at the Africa Cup of Nations by beating Tunisia to the second runners-up position.
The two losing finalists meet in Al Salam Stadium, Wednesday night in the third-place playoff with money and pride at stake.
Nigeria missed out on the final courtesy of a last minute Riyad Mahrez spectacle that earned Algeria a slot in the final. Tunisia meanwhile went the distance against Senegal but were felled in extra time by Dylan Bronn’s own goal that gave the Teranga Lions a 1-0 success.
As the two sides prepare to meet at this stage only for the second time in history, Rohr remains upbeat despite missing out on the topmost prize.
“After our loss to Algeria, we were a bit disappointed because it’s disappointing when you lose a game in the last seconds,” he told a press conference on Tuesday.
“We’ve analyzed the match, we saw the video with the players yesterday [Monday] and we saw also it was a good match and we gave a good fight.
“The statistics were even better for us, because we had 11 shots on goal, they had only six. We had better possession of the ball against probably the best team so far in the tournament.
“So, losing to them is not a shame and we have to be positive as we want to finish this competition well together.”
Rohr will further be encouraged to learn that the Super Eagles have never been beaten at Afcon by Tunisia in their four previous encounters (W2, D2).
The duo come up against each other for a third-place match for the second time after 1978 when Nigeria emerged 2-, winners.
The three time African champions have also won all their previous six third-place playoffs.
While Rohr seemed ready to take the penny having missed the pound, his counterpart Allaine Giresse sounded less optimistic and hinted he might miss some players through injury.
“The match will be very difficult, physically and technically,” he said. “We’ll try everything we can to finish third.
“Of course, we wanted to reach the final, but now we focus on the third-place match. I can’t say all my players are perfectly fit, we have a little time to know how ready the players are.”
The two sides last met in January 2016 during the Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) as they settled for a one-all draw.