2022 FIFA World Cup Team Previews: Tunisia
The 2022 FIFA World Cup is less than a month away from kicking off in Qatar. Over the next 32 days, I will be previewing each team that will be taking part in the world’s most-watched event. Check out all of the team previews that have been done so far. Up next is Tunisia.
In the 2021 African Cup of Nations, Tunisia made it to the quarterfinals before falling to Burkina Faso. It was a slight disappointment for the “Eagles of Carthage” since they finished fourth two years earlier. Following that 1-0 defeat, Tunisia went seven matches unbeaten and qualified for the 2022 World Cup by beating Mali 1-0 on aggregate. Tunisia is one of the best teams in Africa and is the third highest-ranked African team in the FIFA men’s rankings at #30 behind Morocco (22) and Senegal (18).
World Cup Appearances
Tunisia will be appearing in their second consecutive and sixth total World Cup at the 2022 World Cup. That came after missing out on two straight. The “Eagles of Carthage” made their first World Cup appearance in 1978 and followed that up with four consecutive misses. They turned it around in 1998 and made three straight appearances through 2006.
Best Finish at a World Cup
Never in any of Tunisia’s five previous World Cup appearances did they get out of the group stage. Only twice did they even manage to win a match. Their two World Cup wins came in 1978 against Mexico winning 3-1 and in 2018 by beating Panama 2-1 with a pair of second-half goals.
The captain and most experienced player for Tunisia is Youssef Msakni who has made 87 appearances for the “Eagles of Carthage” but missed the 2018 World Cup due to a knee injury. He has also scored 17 goals, good for the sixth most in Tunisian history. In qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, Tunisia had two players score multiple goals, Wahbi Khazri (3) and Ellyes Skhiri (2), while six others had a single goal. Khazri is one of the best goalscorers in Tunisian history with 24 goals in 71 matches, the second most in the nation’s history behind Issam Jemâa’s 36. Defensively one player that has stood out for his club team is Montassar Talbi. Playing center-back for Lorient in Ligue 1, Talbi has helped Lorient surprisingly sit in the top four. The biggest question will be in the goalkeeping department with a combined 14 caps between the two possible starters Bechir Ben Saïd (10) and Aymen Dahmen (4).
Tunisian-born manager Jalel Kadri debuted as a manager in 2001 with AS Djerba and since then has managed nearly as many teams as there are letters in the alphabet. He was appointed as a fill-in manager for Tunisia’s 2021 African Cup of Nations match against Nigeria after the first manager, Mondher Kebaier, had to miss out because of covid. Kadri led the “Eagles of Carthage” to a 1-0 victory and was appointed the full-time manager of Tunisia after the tournament ended.
Biggest Group Game – vs Australia on November 26
For a team that has won just one match in two of five World Cups, this match with Australia could be their best shot at earning a third-ever World Cup win. Ranked ahead of the Aussies, the “Eagles of Carthage” will be looking at this match as the chance to advance with a win and an upset result against either France or Denmark.
While the match with Australia is Tunisia’s biggest even if they do win that, I do not see them getting out of Group D. Nothing against the “Eagles of Carthage” but France and Denmark are both in the top 10 of FIFA’s rankings for a reason and will make easy work of the African side. Just like in all their previous World Cup appearances, Tunisia will bounce out of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the group stage.
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