World Cup team preview: Tunisia

Tunisia

Tunisia return to the World Cup for a fifth time after they missed the last two editions, having never progressed further than the group stages.

The Carthage Eagles strolled through the qualifying rounds as they took 10 points from a possible 12 and kept three clean sheets along the way.

But Nabil Maaloul’s side face a tall order to progress from Group G at Russia 2018, where they will come up against Belgium, England and Panama.

Maaloul is in his third spell in charge of the national team and will rely on his astute defensive tactics to yield results, but finds himself without star player, Youssef Msakni.

The gifted midfielder, who suffered a knee injury in a league game for Al-Duhail in April, was a key part of the national team during the qualifying campaign, scored three goals in four games.

Much of the weight to score goals will now be placed on Wahbi Khazri. The Sunderland forward scored nine goals in 24 appearances in Ligue 1 during a loan spell with Rennes last season.

Saif Eddine Khaoui is the surprise selection and will provide a spark on the wing. He scored five times and registered two assists for Troyes in 2017/2018.

The North Africans failed to win their last two games, but put on a spirited comeback to snatch a 2-2 draw with Portugal after they went 2-0 down early on. Their final World Cup warm-up match resulted in a 1-0 defeat to Spain.

Tunisia know how challenging it will be to emerge from their group, but a good start against England in their first game on Monday could quickly galvanize them.

Full squad:

Goalkeepers: Aymen Mathlouthi (Al-Baten), Farouk Ben Mustapha (Al-Shabab), Moez Hassen (Chateauroux).

Defenders: Rami Bedoui (ES Sahel), Yohan Benalouane (Leicester City), Syam Ben Youssef (Kasimpasa), Dylan Bronn (Gent), Oussama Haddadi (Dijon) , Ali Maaloul (Al-Ahly), Yassine Meriah (CS Sfaxien), Hamdi Nagguez (Zamalek).

Midfielders: Mohamed Amine Ben Amor (Al-Ahli SC), Sai-Eddine Khaoui (Troyes), Ahmed Khalil (Club Africain), Ellyes Skhiri (Montpellier), Ferjani Sassi (Al-Nasr), Ghaylene Chaalali (ES Tunis).

Forwards: Anice Badri (ES Tunis), Fakhreddine Ben Youssef (Al-Ittifaq), Naim Sliti (Dijon), Bassem Srarfi (Nice), Wahbi Khazri (Rennes), Saber Khalifa (Club Africain).

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