Guinea earned a 1-0 victory over Nigeria to reach the quarter-finals ©CAF

Nigeria were sent crashing out of the African Nations Championship after they fell to defeat to Guinea in their final Group C match at Umuganda Stadium in Gisenyi.

The Nigerians entered their final match top of the table with a draw set to be enough to seal their place in the quarter-finals, but made the surprising decision to leave tournament top scorer Chisom Chikatara on the  bench.

Without the striker, scorer of four goals in the opening two matches, Nigeria struggled to seriously test the Guinea goal during the first-half.

They were made to pay moments before half-time when Guinea's Ibrahima Sankhon scored from close range after a low right wing cross into the area.

Chikatara was bought on the second-half as Nigeria chased an equaliser, but proved unable to inspire his side.

The 1-0 defeat left Nigeria requiring a favour from their neighbours Niger, who were playing Tunisia at the Stade Régional Nyamirambo in Kigali

Two goals in the first-half from Saad Bguir gave Tunisia a comfortable lead at half-time and they built on that advantage in the second-half.

Ahmed Akaich added to their advantage with 12 minutes remaining of the game before Ali Maaloul and Hichem Essifi scored late goals to complete a superb 5-0 win for Tunisia and earn them a place in the quarter-finals alongside Guinea.

Tunisia thrashed Niger to finish top of the group
Tunisia thrashed Niger to finish top of the group ©CAF

The result proved enough to see them emerge to the quarter-finals as Group C winners on goal difference, with Guinea ending second with five points from their three matches.

Nigeria’s exit from the tournament means none of the top four countries from the 2014 edition of the event have managed to reach the knock-out phase in Rwanda.

It follows defending champions Libya and 2014 runners-up Ghana failing to qualify for the tournament, while Nigeria and Zimbabwe have both been eliminated at the group stage.

Tunisia and Guinea will discover their quarter-final opponents tomorrow when Group D draws to a close, with Zambia having already qualified and facing competition from Mali for top spot.

The tournament, now in its fourth edition, differs from the more elite Africa Cup of Nations, as only players who represent clubs on the continent are allowed to take part.