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Wednesday, 30 November 2022 14:37

Tunisia face old foe for place in the knockout stages.

Staff Reporter.

North African side Tunisia have it all to do in their final World Cup Group D clash against champions France at Education City Stadium on Wednesday but are very much still alive in terms of a last 16 place.


Victory for Tunisia against already qualified France could see them into the next stage, though it all depends what happens between Australia and Denmark in the other game in the pool. A win for Australia puts them into the knockout stages whatever happens with Tunisia, while a draw would favour the African side if they get a win over France, as it would put them ahead on goal-difference. Should Denmark and Tunisia both win, they would each be on four points and it would come down to goal-difference and then goals scored. Bot are on -1 at present, but the Danes have scored a goal more.


The colonial past between these two sides adds some extra spice to the fixture, as does the fact that 10 of the Tunisian players were born in France and three play there. A number of the Tunisians were French junior internationals before switch allegiances. There are many ties between the two countries and a deep familiarity which will add a sense of drama to the occasion.


The fact that France have already qualified means they may well change their line-up, with reports that Kylian Mbappe may not play. It is a chance for coach Didier Deschamps to give others in his squad a run, but he will also want to secure top spot in the pool and will be wary of being caught by the Australians. The runner-up in this pool may well have to play Argentina in the next stage, so that is one they will want to avoid.


The North Africans have yet to open their account at the World Cup though they came mighty close in their opener with Denmark that finished 0-0. Twice they had one-on-one chances that were spurned. They come up against the toughest defence in the pool now though, so will need a bit of luck and perhaps a little more guile. Conversely, they have only conceded once in their two games.


The experienced Wahbi Khazri has not had a great season in Ligue 1 since his move to Montpellier but is the kind of player that Tunisia probably need in this encounter. He has been on the bench for the first two games, but there must be the temptation now for Jalel Kadri to unleash him on a French side he knows so well.