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FIFA World Cup: Russia 2018

Seven Domestic Players in Tunisia’s World Cup Squad…As Saudi-based Akaichi Throws Tongue-in-cheek Dig at Coach Over His Omission

Announcement of a final 23-man World Cup is bound to stir up debate and it was no different in Tunisia when Carthage Eagles’ gaffer Nabil Maaloul unveiled his Russia-bound team.

Despite with a vast number of players plying their trade in recognised leagues overseas, Maaloul opted to include seven players cutting it in the Tunisian domestic championship in his World Cup roster.

The 56-year-old’s decision -lambasted by some and hailed in other quarters – perhaps sought to send warning to renowned team stars that playing abroad is no guarantee for an automatic pick-up status.

Of the seven players, two each were drawn from champions Esperance, Etoile du Sahel, Club Africain and one from Clube Sportive Sfaxien.

Defender Hamdi Nagguez who has been a regular for Egyptian club Zamalek also got the nod.

Sunderland’s Wahbi Khazri, Nahim Sliti of Dijon and Ellyes Skhiri will slug it out to fill the attacking midfielder void created by the absence of big-name Mskani who sustained an injury but got voted the Qatar Stars League’s player of the season.

However, the selection did not go down well with some players notably Saudi Arabia-based forward Ahmed Akaichi.

Capped twenty-nine (29) times with the Eagles, the Bizerti-born wrote a tongue-in-cheek statement “thanking” the technical team for their “choices.”

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“Good luck to my teammates and thanks to the technical staff for their choices. God doesn’t waste the hard guy,”[/perfectpullquote]

he wrote on his timeline in an apparent dig at coaches.

Pitted in Group G, Tunisia’s begins it World Cup campaign with a tie against the Three Lions of England at the Volgoglad Arena 18th June 2018.

Tunisia’s 23-man World Cup squad

Goalkeepers: Aymen Mathlouthi (Al Batin Saoudi/Saudi Arabia), Farouk Ben Mustapha (Al Shabab Saoudi/Saudi Arabia), Mouez Hassen (Chateauroux/France)

Defenders: Hamdi Nagguez (Zamalek/Egypt), Dylan Bronn (Ghent/Belgium), Rami Bedoui (Etoile Sportive du Sahel), Yohan Benalouane (Leicester/England), Syam Ben Youssef (Kasimpasa/Turkey), Yassine Meriah (Club Sportif Sfax), Oussama Haddadi (Dijon/France), Ali Maaloul (Al Ahli/Egypt)

Midfielders: Ellyes Skhiri (Montpellier/France), Mohamed Amine Ben Amor (Al Ahly/Saudi Arabia), Ghaylene Chaalali (Esperance Tunis), Ferjani Sassi (Al Nasr Saoudi/Saudi Arabia), Ahmed Khalil (Club Africain), Saifeddine Khaoui (Troyes/France)

Forwards: Fakhreddine Ben Youssef (Al Ittifak/Saudi Arabia), Anice Badri (Esperance), Bassem Srarfi (Nice/France), Wahbi Khazri (Rennes/France), Naim Sliti (Dijon/France), Saber Khalifa (Club Africain)


Featured Photo:  Anice Badri of Esperance is one of seven local players in Tunisia’s World Cup plane

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