The current tournament has proven to be testing in the group stage. A 2-1 defeat to England in their Group G opening match followed by a 5-2 thumping by Belgium, ended Tunisia’s campaign with a game to spare.
But it was not the Carthage Eagles to first head home as fellow North Africans Egypt and Morocco also exited the stage early following dismal results. Saudi Arabia also went home early.
The damage had already been done when they were overpowered 2-1 in their Group A final game by Saudi Arabia.
Maaloul has taken stock of the problems which “need two generations” to remedy.
“We have common problems,” ESPN quoted Maaloul as saying.
“I don't think we have high quality performance, we need to change our lifestyle because it is not in line with high-level football, we need to change the way we train. We need two more generations to reach (the top) level of performance in terms of fitness and physical strength. We are far from the required level.”
Tunisia will conclude their Group G campaign against Panama on Thursday, in what is just a bid to salvage some World Cup pride.
Even if they emphatically beat Panama, questions on the Arab nations’ pedigree will linger ahead of the next World Cup edition in Qatar 2022.