World Cup: Jalel Kadri hopeful Tunisia will make it despite a difficult group

Tunisia national team head coach Jalel Kadri has admitted that his team is in a difficult group at the 2022 World Cup but insists their target is to reach the second round of the tournament in Qatar.

The Carthage Eagles were drawn in a group with the reigning champions, France and Denmark, semi-finalists of Euro 2021, following Friday’s draw in Doha.

Apart from France and Denmark, Tunisia will also face the winner of the play-off between the United Arab Emirates, Australia and Peru.

The Tunisia tactician, who was appointed in January to take full charge of the Carthage Eagles after being the assistant coach, assured supporters of the national team that his players will bravely fight their opponents to reach the second round.

“The draw for the Qatar 2022 World Cup has placed Tunisia in a difficult group but we will play with the objective of reaching the second round for the first time in our history,” Kadri said following the draw in the Qatari capital.

Regarding the clash with France scheduled for November 30, Kadri admits that the Blues are the favourites of pundits for the game but insists they will be no pushovers.

“France is an opponent that we respect enormously. They are the title holders so it’s a big challenge. There is a large population of Tunisians in France, as we know,” the coach of the Carthage Eagles said.

“We have players like Wahbi Khazri, one of our leaders playing in their top-flight league. And we know it will be a complicated meeting. We will do our best to represent our national team in the best possible way.

The Tunisian coach is surrounded by two assistants, Selim Benachour (ex-PSG) and Ali Boumnijel (ex-Sochaux and Gueugnon), who know France well and the trainer hopes to rely on their experience.

“We will play without complex, we will do everything to honour the flag. We have seven months to prepare well,” Kadri added.

Known in world football circles, the Tunisian coach Wajdi Essid, also believes in the chances of the Carthage Eagles to reach the second round.

“Now that we have achieved the first objective and are qualified for the final phase of the World Cup, we must focus now on our second objective: to qualify for the second round.

The sporting public no longer accepts that we go to the World Cup again to content ourselves with playing the three matches of the first round and returning home,” said the coach of Saudi Arabian side Al Wahda.

“For me, since Wadie Jary (the president of the Tunisian Football Federation) said during the draw ceremony that our objective is to qualify in the second round, that is the mission of those who will go to Doha next November. We will take the national team officials for their word,” Essid explained.

“However, we will not have Mauritania on the menu this time, but rather the reigning world champion. Despite this, I remain confident in the ability of our national team to get past the first round, provided we show pragmatism and intelligence in the game.

“As far as Denmark is concerned, it is a great footballing nation, as it is the first match of the tournament, we must not lose it. In the worst case, we must draw, suggested the technician currently playing at Al Wahda in Saudi Arabia.

“As for the second match, I doubt that the Emirates, who are not at their best level, will go to the World Cup. Between Peru and Australia, I much prefer the Peruvians. At least, against them, we can have chances to express ourselves on the pitch and unfold our game. The Australians, with their physical commitment and their direct play, will be intractable,” Jalel Kadri analyzed.

“Against France, we must not play with the inferiority complex, the idea that we are playing against the reigning world champion, that it is a much stronger selection than us. Against France, mental preparation will prevail, he said.

“Our strength lies in the collective. The World Cup is not for star players. Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar have never won a World Cup with their respective teams,” recalled the Tunisian calling on coach Jalel Kadri to prepare his game plan for each of the three matches of the first round.

Tunisia, which has been to five World Cup finals, has never reached the second round.

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