IZUCHUKWU OKOSI recalls the past editions of the Africa Cup of Nations when the Green Eagles cum Super Eagles finished in third place as they get set to play against the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia tonight in the third place/losers’ final of the 22nd edition of the tournament.
Nigeria’s first third place finish of the Africa Cup of Nations came in the 1976 AFCON in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 14 March at the Addis Ababa stadium when the Green Eagles defeated Egypt 3-2. Haruna Ilerika (brace)and Muda Lawal scored Nigeria’s goals in the game.
Interestingly, Nigeria defeated Tunisia in the 3rd place final of the 1978 AFCON by default.
The match was abandoned after Tunisia walked off in the 42nd minute with the score tied at 1-1 to protest the officiating. Nigeria were awarded a 2-0 win, and Tunisia were banned from the next tournament.
Baba Otu Mohammed had equalized in the 42nd minute after Tunisia’s Mohamed Akid put the Carthage Eagles ahead in the 19th minute.
Rashidi Yekini and Friday Ekpo scored for the Super Eagles as they defeated Cameroon 2-1 at the Stade la Amitie in Dakar on 25 January 1992 to clinch the bronze in the 1992 Africa Cup of Nations in Senegal.
In Mali 2002 the Super Eagles finished as the third best side with a 1-0 win over Mali on 9 February 2002 at the Stade Barema Bocoum, Mopti.
Yakubu Aiyegbeni was the scorer for the Nigerian side in the 29th minute.
The Stade Mustafa Ben Jannet, Monastir, Tunisia was the venue of the third place final between Nigeria and Mali on 13 February 2004.
Tournament’s best player and BBC African Footballer of the Year winner Austin Jay Jay Okocha and Osaze Odemwengie were the scorers for the Super Eagles.
Nigeria finished the group stages with a 100% record in the group stages with three wins in three games but ended up in third place as they defeated Senegal 1-0 on 9 February 2006 at the Cairo Military stadium.
Garba Lawal was the Eagle who scored Nigeria’s solitary goal.
The last time Nigeria finished third in the AFCON was in 2010 when they defeated Algeria 1-0 thanks to an Obinna Nsofor goal on 30 January at the Estadio de Ombaka in Benuela.