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WORLD CUP 2018: AFRICAN PARTICIPATION (Pt. 3)

TUNISIA

Tunisia was the first African nation to win a World Cup match with the golden generation of Tarek Dhiab, Hammadi Agrebi, and Sadek Sassi Attouga.

The highest ranked African team in this year’s tournament at 21st position, the Carthage Eagles qualified after beating Mauritania to enter the Africa group stage where they overcame stiff resistance from Guinea, Libya and DR Congo. Unlike other African sides with one or two outstanding individual players plying their trade in the big five European Leagues, the majority of its squad plays domestically or for second-tier clubs in Europe and is also recovering after a very difficult decade. Tunisia qualified for their fifth World Cup for the first time since 2006, by beating DR Congo and although they did not allow any goals in the last round of qualifying, they’re generally viewed as the weakest of the African teams to have qualified for Russia.

Coached by Nabil Maaloul, the Carthage Eagles are appearing at the World Cup for the fifth time having previously featured in 1978, 1998, 2002 and 2006.

CHANCES

Unfortunately their key player and striker, Youssef Msakni injured a knee ligament while playing in the Qatari league, and is out of the World Cup.

Grouped alongside England, Belgium and Panama in Group G, the major challenge for the Carthage Eagles will be to win their second World Cup match, after the lone victory against Mexico at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. The team’s resourcefulness, grit and spirit will be fully tested in their fixtures against England and Belgium. However, it will require a well mapped out strategy for them to progress to the second round given their opposition’s pedigree. All that is needed is get a win against Panama, then hope for decent results against England and Belgium.

BEST WORLD CUP: Group Stage 1978, 1998, 2002, 2006

COACH: Nabil Maaloul

SQUAD:

Goalkeepers: Farouk Ben Mustapha (Al Shabab, Saudi Arabia), Moez Hassen (Chateauroux, France), Aymen Mathlouthi (Al Baten, Saudi Arabia)

Defenders: Rami Bedoui (Etoile du Sahel), Yohan Benalouane (Leicester City, England), Syam Ben Youssef (Kasimpasa, Turkey), Dylan Bronn (Gent, Belgium), Oussama Haddadi (Dijon, France), Ali Maaloul (Al Ahly, Egypt), Yassine Meriah (CS Sfaxien), Hamdi Nagguez (Zamalek, Egypt)

Midfielders: Anice Badri (Esperance), Mohamed Amine Ben Amor (Al Ahli Riyadh, Saudi Arabia), Ghaylene Chaalali (Esperance), Ahmed Khalil (Club Africain), Saifeddine Khaoui (Troyes, France), Ferjani Sassi (Al Nasr, Saudi Arabia), Ellyes Skhiri (Montpellier, France), Naim Sliti (Dijon, France), Bassem Srarfi (Nice, France)

Forwards: Fakhreddine Ben Youssef (Al Ittifaq, Saudi Arabia), Saber Khalifa (Club Africain), Wahbi Khazri (Rennes, France)

KEYPLAYER(S): Aymen Abdennour, Wahbi Khazri, Naim Sliti

FIXTURES

18 June: v England Volgograd 19:00 BST
23 June: v Belgium Moscow 13:00 BST
28 June: v Panama Saransk 19:00 BST

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