Niger history-maker Tonji Ngounou looks to future

By John BennettBBC Sport, Libreville
Niger's William Tonji Ngounou (in white)
Tonji Ngounou (in white) will be forever remembered in Niger football history

The scorer of Niger's first ever Africa Cup of Nations goal says it is important the team learns lessons from their last-gasp defeat to Tunisia.

After disappointing in their opening match, the Mena put in a much-improved performance against the North Africans.

After just eight minutes, William Tonji Ngounou made history when he scored Niger's first goal at a Nations Cup.

"I'm proud to be the one who scored but it would have been better if it was the winning goal," he told BBC Sport.

"Still, to be able to score in a tournament like this I'm proud."

"One year from now there's another Africa Cup of Nations and I think we'll be ready for the next tournament."

After Ngounou's goal, Niger suffered heartbreak when Tunisian sub Isaam Jemma scored the winner for the Carthage Eagles with just a minute left to earn the North Africans a 2-1 win.

With Gabon beating Morocco later in the evening, Niger made an early exit from the competition after just two games in Group C.

"We were really close and we let it go," said Tonji Ngounou.

"It's sad but it's a lesson to learn for the next time. We'll be aware of our mistakes and try to do better."

Niger qualified for the Nations Cup from a group that contained defending champions Egypt and the winners of the 1996 finals - South Africa.

They beat both of those sides at home but struggled away, losing all of their matches without scoring a goal.

And Tonji Ngounou says the tournament debutants owed it to themselves to do better against Tunisia.

"We felt that we didn't perform that much in the first game, so we had to do something - we had to play our own game."

"We tried to do that against Tunisia. Of course we still had that knife in our back from the Gabon match so we had to show that we had deserved to qualify for the Nations Cup."

Niger complete their Group C campaign when taking on Morocco in Libreville on Tuesday, when Harouna Doula's side will try to win their first point ever at a Nations Cup finals.