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Hatem Trabelsi counsels Tunisia ahead of 2018 World Cup

6:38 AM MYT 20/02/2018
Tunisia World Cup
The Carthage Eagles will be competing against two European giants as they aim to progress to the knockout round of the World Cup for the first time

Former Tunisia international Hatem Trabelsi has urged Nabil Maaloul’s men to maximize the opportunity the Fifa World Cup gives and represent the north African country with honour.

The 2004 Africa Cup of Nations champions who will make their fifth World Cup appearance in Russia have been paired with England, Belgium and Panama in Group G.

After missing out in the 2014 edition in Brazil, Tunisia will be targeting their first win in the quadrennial event since their 3-1 win over Mexico in Argentina 1978.

With experience at three World Cup tournaments, the former Manchester City and Ajax defender who made 66 international appearances advised the Carthage Eagles on their anxiety and what is expected of them.

“The World Cup offers players an opportunity to get noticed and to perform at the very highest level. I hope that we'll make a big impression on the tournament,” Trabelsi told FIFA.com.

“They[Tunisia] shouldn't be afraid, and they need to make sure they're mentally and physically ready. They must be realistic. Even the match with Panama will be very tough.

“They'll have to play to their strengths. If the results don't come, they'll need to at least try to represent Tunisian football with honour; we've qualified four times for the World Cup and won the Africa Cup of Nations, after all.”

Ahead of Tunisia’s showdown with England at the global showpiece in Russia, Trabelsi recalled the 1998 meeting between both countries which he featured in as goals from Alan Shearer and Paul Scholes propelled the Three Lions to victory.

“We'd played well defensively in the first half, but England were a very strong side,” he added.

"We were afraid of them and that was the telling factor in the end. It's possible that we were lacking a bit of self-confidence at the start of the match.

“We were well prepared that day, but we still lost 2-0. That England team contained some really big names like David Beckham, Alan Shearer, Sol Campbell and Paul Scholes; the same could not be said for us.

“We competed against some of the very best in that match, and that proved useful during the subsequent stages of our careers.”

The Carthage Eagles begin their 2018 World Cup campaign at the Volgograd Arena against England on June 18.