Elvis Chisom Chikatara’s reward for scoring a hat-trick for Nigeria against Niger in the 2016 African Championship of Nations (CHAN) was a start against Tunisia on Friday.

The Abia Warriors striker struggled to make an impact with Tunisia’s central defence pair of Zied Boughattas and Derbali Zied keeping him quiet for the first half.

However, he got one chance in the second and made it count as he scored Nigeria’s lone strike at the Kigali Regional Stadium in Nyamirambo in a game that ended 1-1.

Chikatara and Tunisia’s Ahmed Akaichi were expected to make the difference for their sides and it was the latter who scored his side’s equaliser.

Tunisia took long to come to the party, the first 45 minutes belonged to them after they did everything in their power to find a breakthrough but failed to make it count. Tunisia’s two goal hero from their 2-2 draw with Guinea, Akaichi was putting Nigeria’s defense under enormous pressure. The 26-year old striker forced two saves out of Ikechukwu Vincent in a space of two minutes.

The 2011 winners had their works almost paying off when a cross from the left wing was turned into the net by Akaichi but the effort was ruled out by the first assistant referee Oamogetse Godisamang.

But that’s all the first 45 minutes offered, with Nigeria playing their free flowing style of football while Tunisia fused that with their long balls through the middle and in the wings.

At the start of the second half, Nigerian tactician Sunday Oliseh brought on Orji Kalu for Stephen Eze who had injured his left shoulder. Seven minutes into the second half, Tunisia paid the price for playing in their goal area, Nigeria’s Mohamed Usman released Chikatara who slotted home with too much ease.

Tunisia brought off Derbali a defender for Essifi Hichem a striker in a move to get back into the game.

While Nigeria were failing to take advantage of Tunisia’s lapses in defense, the patience of the latter eventually paid off. Akaichi taking advantage of Nigeria’s clumsiness and complacency to find the back of net with 22 minutes to play.

Nigeria’s defense was living dangerously as Tunisia dissected it whenever they wanted but just failed to find the back of the net.

Oliseh brought on Joseph Bassey Ezekiel for Aggreh Obus Prince as he tried to push for a winner in the final ten minutes.

Unfortunately both teams settled for a draw, pushing Nigeria to four points while Tunisia improved to two.

Nigeria will need a point from of their last group game against Guinea to advance while Tunisia will need to beat Niger to make it to the last eight.

Senior staff writer at Kawowo Sports mainly covering volleyball, football and badminton

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