The Carthage Eagles of Tunisia have not been a strong football nation in Africa. Although they have qualified for four FIFA World Cup competitions, they are still ranked behind Egypt, Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria. Tunisia has never qualified from the group stage at the world cup and they have only won the African Cup of Nations once. However, the Carthage Eagles made history by beating Mexico to become the first African team to win a world cup game.
Tunisia qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup after a series of impressive performances. The Carthage Eagles were unbeaten throughout the qualifying round. They were grouped with Libya, Guinea and DR Congo but the Tunisians finished with 14 points after drawing two games and winning the rest.
The Carthage Eagles have been drawn in group G with Belgium, England and Panama. The Tunisian supporters would fancy their chances against Panama and England. The English have a history of under performing on the big stage and they are only one spot ahead of the Tunisian national team. The Carthage Eagles are ranked as the 14th best team in the world and they would hope to cause an upset that would see them progress to the next round.
The Carthage Eagles of Tunisia are managed by the Nabil Maaloul. Maaloul is one of the two African coaches at the world cup. The former Tunisian international was assistant coach when the carthage eagles won the AFCON title in 2004. Since then, he has coached at top clubs in Tunisia, Kuwait and Quatar. In 2011, Maaloul led FC Tunis to an unprecedented treble after he won the Tunisian League, Cup and the CAF Champions League.
He was the coach of the Carthage Eagles in 2013 but he resigned after they failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. In his second spell, he found a way to convince professional footballers with dual citizenship to opt to play for Tunisia. He then led the Carthage Eagles to the 2018 FIFA World Cup and would hope to have another record breaking campaign if they can qualify from their group.
Carthage Eagles to watch out for
Tunisia would be missing two of their biggest attacking threats at the world cup after Youssef Msakni and Taha Khenissi picked up injuries. All eyes would be on Wahbi Khazri to lead the Carthage Eagles to glory. The sunderland man struggled a bit in the English League and Championship but he had a decent season for Rennes where he scored 9 goals last season.
Rami Bedoui and Yohan Benalouane would also be integral to performance of the Tunisians at the world cup. In the friendly games against Portugal, the defenders did not look out of their league. It would be expected of Benalouane to bring his premier league experience to help keep the Tunisian defence in check.
Tunisia’s World Cup 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)
Tunisia’s World Cup 2018 fixtures
- England: Monday, June 18 at 7pm
- Belgium: Saturday, June 23 at 1pm
- Panama: Thursday, June 28 at 7pm