AFCON 2021; Tunisia, Cameroon, Gambia set to play the quaterfinals

Tunisia surprised three-time winner Nigeria to reach the Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinals on Sunday despite a weakened squad.

● Tunisia stuns Nigeria

Tunisia won an improbable 1-0 victory thanks to Youssef Msakni’s strike, despite numerous players and coach Mondher Kebaier being absent because of a Covid-19 epidemic among the squad.

Maduka Okoye reached the long-range, swerving effort two minutes into the second half, but the Nigerian goalie couldn’t stop it from going in.

Substitute Alex Iwobi was sent off midway through the second half after a video assistant referee (VAR) review upgraded the forward’s tackle from a yellow to a red card. Nigeria was the only team to win every game in the group stages.

The Super Eagles pressed for an equaliser late in the game, with late chances for Wilfred Ndidi and Umar Sadiq, while Tunisia’s Nam Sliti had an effort stopped by Okoye on 75 minutes.

The score remained 1-0, meaning Tunisia will face Burkina Faso in the quarterfinals on Saturday. Tunisia won just one game in the group stages and only advanced to the last 16 as one of the best third-placed teams.

Burkina Faso, meanwhile, advanced to the final eight after defeating Gabon on penalties.

Bertrand Traoré, who struck the crossbar from the penalty spot in the first half, put his team ahead with a one-on-one finish, but Gabon equalised in stoppage time of the second half with an own goal from a corner by Adama Guira.

Gabon’s Sidney Obissa was sent off after receiving his second yellow card.

With the scores tied at 6-6 in the shootout, Gabon’s Lloyd Palun struck the crossbar before Burkina Faso’s Ismahila Ouédraogo converted to send Burkina Faso to the quarterfinals.

● Hosts to play quarterfinals

Cameroon, the hosts, defeated Comoros 2-1 to advance to the quarterfinals of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2021, where they will face Gambia, which defeated Guines 1-0 in the other round-of-16 tie on Monday night.

Comoros, a small Indian Ocean island nation, put up a valiant effort despite being without a recognised goalie and playing with ten men for the majority of the game at the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde, losing by a tight margin.

Following a spectacular triumph against Ghana, Comoros’ fairytale rapidly turned into a nightmare as a coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic in their camp left them without a goalkeeper for the match against Cameroon.

● Gambia advanced

Gambia advanced to the last eight of the AFCON 2021 tournament with a 1-0 win over Guinea.

In Bafoussam, Musa Barrow scored the game-winning goal in the 71st minute to conclude a contest in which both teams were reduced to ten men.

Guinea, who were playing without their banned captain, Naby Keita, was compelled to push forward in search of an equaliser after conceding the goal.

Guinea’s Ibrahima Conte and Gambia’s Yusupha Njie were both sent off in the last minutes after receiving two bookings, but the underdogs held on.

The Olembe Stadium, which seats 60,000 people, will host the final on February 6.

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