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Faouzi Benzarti: Coaching Tunisia & Esperance Is No Problem

Freshly appointed Tunisian national team coach Faouzi Benzarti has told TV7 that he is not at all concerned about the possibility of his new role negatively affecting his activities at Esperance Sportive de Tunis, where he will remain the manager of the domestic league champions until at least next June.

“This isn’t a problem as there’s a precedent for it. It’s happened in lots of countries and can happen here. One recent example is how Guus Hiddink was coaching both the Russian national team and Chelsea at the same time,” he explained in his first televised interview after he met with the Tunisian Football Federation on Saturday.

The well travelled trainer has been waiting for an opportunity to take the reins of the North African country’s football team ever since 1994, when he was caretaker coach for little more than 24 hours. However, this time he has made sure that his time with the Carthage Eagles will run much longer than that.

Benzarti will lead Tunisia during the upcoming African Cup of Nations in Angola and will then return to Esperance. Once his contract with them expires in June, he will sign a new one with the FA that will likely run all the way through to the World Cup qualifiers for Brazil 2014.

Nevertheless, it is possible that he will extend his deal with Esperance if his team is able to make it to the CAF Champions League group stages, which is rather likely considering the strength of the current team he has built.

The Monastir-born trainer has also expressed how proud he is of the fact that the vast majority of Tunisians immediately called for him as a replacement for Humberto Coelho after the North African country’s exit from World Cup contention.

“I feel a huge responsibility and I thank everyone. I feel for these people from the bottom of my heart and their trust and expectations make the responsibility even bigger. God willing, I’ll be able live up to this and obtain results that will make all Tunisians happy,” he said.

Rami Ayari,