Monday Jan 24, 2022. 15:00
Super Eagles striker Joseph Aribo is hurting following Sunday night’s shock AFCON 2021 exit in the last 16 stage of the Cameroon tournament.
Tunisia shattered early tournament favourites Nigeria’s dreams when they outwitted a 10-man Super Eagles side to win 1-0 in Garoua on January 23.
It was a heartbreaking moment for the Glasgow Rangers striker who was making his AFCON debut where he started in three of Nigeria’s four matches but exited without a goal despite some impressive displays.
“We are really disappointed that this is not how we wanted things to go. The mood in the camp is that no one is happy,” Aribo told reporters in a mix-zone post-match interview.
Nigeria found the going very tough against a technically astute Tunisia who suffocated the Super Eagles’ commanding display they had brandished in the group stage where they swept Egypt, Sudan and Guinea Bissau off the park to top Group D with a 100 percent record.
“I just think we started really slow and we allowed them to take a foothold in the game. We can’t take anything away from them but we should have been there in the 90 minutes,” Aribo said.
Veteran striker Youssef Msakni put Tunisia ahead in the 47th minute to give Nigeria some homework before 59th minute substitute Alex Iwobi’s red card in the 66th minute made it a mountain to climb.
“We took too long to respond until the first goal. It is the only time we started playing and then the red card incident which was a bit disappointing also,” Aribo said.
“I felt that after their goal, we responded well so I felt we would have had a lot more chances.
But Aribo discounted the theory that Nigeria underrated Tunisia who had struggled through the group stages to qualify as a third best side from Group F with one win and two defeats and were later hit by a raft of pre-match Covid-19 cases.
“I wouldn’t say that because we go into every game with respect for our opponent so it had nothing to do with underestimating them,” Aribo said.
“Like I said, they had a good game plan, they did what they had to do but we were just not good enough on the day.
“You can say anything; you can say, you could have done this differently, you could have done that differently but we were not just good enough in the 90 minutes.
“We gave them too much respect I would say on the ball but we needed to be better and take the game to them more.”
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