Tunisia arrives at their sixth World Cup with low expectations after squeezing through African qualifiers and they will be hoping their status as Group D underdogs will help ease the pressure to deliver a surprise.
They have only won two games out of five at this year’s African Cup of Nations, one against lowly Mauritania, and World Cup qualifications weren’t much more impressive: they managed to beat Mali in two matches thanks to a single Malian of their own. goal, and appear on paper as the weakest of the five African teams in Qatar (Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco and African champions Senegal make up the quintet).
Manager Jalel Qadri doesn’t have a huge amount of talent, but he does have a few familiar names to English football fans, including former Sunderland winger Wahbi Khazri, now at Montpellier, and Birmingham City youth midfielder Hannibal Maybry on loan from Manchester United. ”, and former Southampton defender Jan Valery, who moved to French side Angers this summer. Khazri is the second highest scorer in the history of the country with 24 goals in 69 matches.
Tunisia has won two World Cups, first against Mexico in 1978 and then 40 years later against Panama in Russia in 2018. Socceroos is essential if they want to make a shock and reach the World Cup playoffs for the first time in their history.
Qadri called it his “personal drive” to achieve just that. He won the Kirin Cup in June but hinted that he could leave if Tunisia failed to qualify from the group stage in Qatar. “This is my personal ambition. If we fail, I will fail in my mission, no matter how difficult it may be,” Kadri said. “We want to make our dream come true and make the playoffs for the sixth time.”
Here’s everything you need to know:
Group fixtures (all times GMT)
Tuesday, November 22: Denmark – Tunisia – 13:00
Saturday 26 November: Tunisia – Australia – 10:00
Wednesday, November 30: Tunisia – France – 15:00
Star – Youssef Msakni: The 31-year-old captain has scored 17 goals in 84 caps and if Tunisia is to make a shock at this World Cup, he will almost certainly be at the center of the action. Msakni will be one of the few players in the tournament to play his football in Qatar (with the exception of the Qatari team itself), having spent the last two years on loan at Al Arabi Doha, so he will feel right at home when the league kicks off. peace.
Outstanding Talent – Hannibal Maybry: The 19-year-old may not have had many opportunities for Manchester United in his young career yet, but he has had a lot of playing time with the Tunisian national team which persuaded him to leave France, his country of birth, which he played at up to 16 years old. Maybry has been given a lot of responsibility for his 18 caps and usually wears the number 10 shirt. The versatile midfielder will now have the opportunity to show his talents on the biggest stage.
Goalkeepers: Aymen Damen (Club Sportif Sfaxien), Muez Hassan (Club Africanin), Beshir Ben Said (USA, Monastir), Aymen Matlouti (Etoile du Sahel).
Defenders: Ali Abdi (Kan), Mohamed Drager (Luzern), Ali Maaloul (Al Ahly), Wajdi Qeshrida (Atromitos), Nader Gandry (Africa Club), Yassin Meriah (Esperance) , Bilel Ifa (Kuwait), Dylan Bronn (Salernitana). ), Montasart Talbi (Lorient).
Midfielders: Ellis Schiri (Cologne), Gailen Chaalali (Esperance), Aissa Laiduni (Ferencvaros), Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhan (Esperance), Ferjani Sassi (Ad-Duhail), Hannibal Mezhbri (Birmingham City) “).
Forwards: Youssef Msakni (Al Arabi), Seifeddin Jaziri (Zamalek), Naeem Sleety (Ettifak), Issam Jebali (Odense), Taha Yassin Henissi (Kuwait), Anis Ben Slimane (Brøndby) ), Wahbi Khazri (“Montpellier”).
Chances of winning the world championship (taken from Betfair)
Only Saudi Arabia and Costa Rica have a worse chance of winning this World Cup than Tunisia. They’re in a tough group, and there’s little to say that they’ll work their magic and make it to the playoffs. Any victory would be a great achievement in itself. Eliminated in the group stage.