Tunisia almost gained revenge on Guinea for their defeat at the Africa Cup of Nations, but a late strike levelled the scores in their CHAN 2016 Group C encounter on Monday, with the match ending 2-2.
The Eagles of Carthage believed they had prevailed in a tough encounter against the National Elephants to take the early spoils in the group, but a goal in the final minutes shared the points.
Nigeria overcame a sloppy first half to beat Niger 4-1, starting their 2015 CHAN campaign on a winning note.
Here are Monday's results from the competition:
|CHAN 2016: Monday's Scores and Results|
The Group C standings:
|Group C Standings|
Here is the updated schedule for the group stage:
|CHAN 2016: Updated Schedule|
|Jan. 19||1 p.m. / 8 a.m.||D||Zimbabwe vs. Zambia|
|Jan. 19||4 p.m. / 11 a.m.||D||Mali vs. Uganda|
|Jan. 20||1 p.m. / 8 a.m.||A||Rwanda vs. Gabon|
|Jan. 20||4 p.m. / 11 a.m.||A||Morocco vs. Ivory Coast|
|Jan. 21||1 p.m. / 8 a.m.||B||Congo vs. Angola|
|Jan. 21||4 p.m. / 11 a.m.||B||Cameroon vs. Ethiopia|
|Jan. 22||1 p.m. / 8 a.m.||C||Tunisia vs. Nigeria|
|Jan. 22||4 p.m. / 11 a.m.||C||Niger vs. Guinea|
|Jan. 23||1 p.m. / 8 a.m.||D||Zimbabwe vs. Mali|
|Jan. 23||4 p.m. / 11 a.m.||D||Uganda vs. Zambia|
|Jan. 24||1 p.m. / 8 a.m.||A||Morocco vs. Rwanda|
|Jan. 24||4 p.m. / 11 a.m.||A||Ivory Coast vs. Gabon|
|Jan. 25||1 p.m. / 8 a.m.||B||Ethiopia vs. Angola|
|Jan. 25||4 p.m. / 11 a.m.||B||Cameroon vs. Congo|
|Jan. 26||1 p.m. / 8 a.m.||C||Guinea vs. Nigeria|
|Jan. 26||4 p.m. / 11 a.m.||C||Niger vs. Tunisia|
|Jan. 27||1 p.m. / 8 a.m.||D||Zambia vs. Mali|
|Jan. 27||4 p.m. / 11 a.m.||D||Uganda vs. Zimbabwe|
Tunisia and Guinea played out a fine match to start proceedings in Group C.
Tunisia threatened early on after going close with a set play, and they took the lead just after the half-hour mark with an audacious backheel from Ahmed Akaichi.
The 26-year-old striker took his opportunity with magnificent opportunism, giving the Eagles an opener.
However, Guinea were back in the match only seven minutes later, as Alseny Camara notched an equaliser. The defender's goal levelled the sides at half-time, somewhat against the run of play.
The Tunisians emerged from the dressing room full of intent and took the lead for the second time five minutes after the restart.
Akaichi was the hero once more, scoring his second of the contest, and it seemed his side would gain revenge over the team who dumped them out of the Africa Cup of Nations 12 months previous.
However, with the clock ticking down to full-time, Guinea once again stunned their opponents as Camara netted his second of the game to claim a point.
Elvis Chikatara was the hero for Nigeria with a hat-trick in their 4-1 win over Niger, but the Super Eagles hardly looked impressive in their 2016 CHAN debut. As shared by Colin Udoh of ESPN FC, the favourites for this year's title struggled mightily in the first half:
Colin NOT Collins @ColinUdoh
Too many misplaced passes in the final third by @NGSuperEagles. Need to calm down #NGANIG #CHAN20162016-1-18 16:32:16
Niger are hardly football heavyweights, but their high defensive line troubled Nigeria greatly. The forwards had trouble timing their runs throughout the first half, and Niger survived rather comfortably.
The Super Eagles had a perfect start to the second half, however, as Moses Okoro scored almost straight from the kick-off. The goal opened up Niger's defence, and Chikatara doubled Nigeria's lead after getting past his defender with a cheeky touch.
Victorien Adebayor pulled one back with a powerful drive from long range, but Chikatara decided the match with two more goals, and per Udoh, he could have had a lot more:
Colin NOT Collins @ColinUdoh
Chikatara. Comes on in the 57th minute. Scores a hattrick CL. Misses 4 more chances. #NGANIG #CHAN20162016-1-18 17:52:51
Super Eagles manager Sunday Oliseh lauded his players after match, as reported by David Meshioye and Adeboye Amosu of Complete Sports: "The performance tonight was perfect and I am really impressed with my players. We won’t get carried away with the win. We are already looking forward to the our next game and we will approach each game one at a time."
Depth will be one of the keys to glory for Nigeria, who have the luxury of picking from a strong domestic league for the competition. Chikatara is likely to start their next match against Tunisia, and his strong form could play a big factor in that match.
The lack of discipline in the attacking third is worrying for the Super Eagles, however. Teams watching this match will have noticed how Niger's high line troubled the Nigerian attack early, and a team with more offensive firepower, like Cameroon or DR Congo, could use a similar approach with better results.