France and Denmark 2022 not as strong as Belgium and England of 2018 - Tunisia midfielder Sliti

FW_Naim Sliti(C)Getty Images
  • Sliti is not so afraid of defending champions France
  • Tunisia face the European sides in Qatar but midfielder is upbeat
  • The Carthage Eagles have never gone past the World Cup group stage

WHAT HAPPENED? Tunisia are in Group D in the 2022 edition alongside holders France, Denmark, who reached the round of 16 in Russia, and Australia but Sliti, who plays for Saudi Arabian outfit Ettifaq FC, believes neither of the European sides are as strong as what they had in 2018.

The Carthage Eagles had Belgium, England and Panama in their group in the last edition, and started by losing 2-1 to the Three Lions, followed by a 5-2 defeat to the Red Devils, exiting the tournament at the group stage with a 2-1 victory against the then World Cup debutants Panama.

WHAT DID HE SAY? “England were very much a big team and Belgium were the best side in the tournament,” the French-born midfielder told Fifa.

“The group we’re in now is pretty similar because we’ve got two other big sides in Denmark and France. I still don’t think, though, that they’re as strong now as Belgium and England were back then.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: This will be Tunisia’s sixth appearance at the World Cup after participating in the 1978, 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2018 editions and they will be seeking to qualify from their group for the first time in their history.

The North Africans have assembled an experienced squad that includes Sliti, Youssef Msakni, Ali Maaloul and Wahbi Khazri, all who have over 65 caps for the national team, and are also counting on their good defensive record that has seen them keep clean sheets in more that half of their last 50 matches.

They will, however, hope that whoever is selected in goal has a good outing given most Tunisian goalkeepers of late have made big mistakes at key moments.

WHAT’S MORE? Tunisia have conceded just three goals in 12 fixtures this year and Sliti feels this can be crucial for their success in Qatar.

“I also feel we’re more solid at the back. We’ll try to build on that, to make the most of that, and I hope we’ll come away with something positive in the end,” he said.

WHAT’S NEXT? Tunisia begin their World Cup campaign against Denmark on November 22 before a meeting with the Socceroos four days later, with their battle against France slated for November 30.

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Which African team will go furthest in the World Cup?

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