No surprises in Tunisia’s World Cup squad as new coach sticks to old ways

While Tunisia changed to coach Jalel Kadri from Mondher Kebaier, the team is playing with the same system it has adopted for years.

Tunisia’s head coach has released a 26 man squad that includes most of the players who reached the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals this year, as well as the semi-finals in 2019.

Most of the players also played at the 2018 World Cup are still in the squad but since 2019 a good deal of work has been done to attract new dual-nationality players such as Hannibal Mejbri, Aïssa Laïdouni, Omar Rekik, Yan Valery, Chaïm El Djebali and Anis Ben Slimane.

They arrive at the World Cup in good shape. The 5-1 defeat to Brazil in September was Tunisia’s first under head coach, Jalel Kadri. They won the Kirin Cup in Japan after beating Chile 2-0 and the hosts 3-0, their first victory over Japan.

One concern is that the 32-year-old captain, Youssef Msakni, sustained an injury playing for Al Arabi in the Qatar Stars League. He missed the 2018 World Cup with a cruciate ligament injury but he seems to have recovered well this time.

Kadri usually deploys an offensively minded 4-3-3 formation, but uses a 4-5-1 against better teams. Strong midfielders are key.

Tunisia topped their qualifying group before beating Mali 1-0 on aggregate to secure their sixth World Cup appearance.

Squad List

Defenders: Ali Abdi (Caen), Dylan Bronn (Salernitana), Mohamed Drager (FC Luzern), Nader Ghandri (Club Africain), Bilel Ifa (Kuwait SC), Wajdi Kechrida (Atromitos), Ali Maaloul (Al Ahly), Yassine Meriah (Esperance), Montassar Talbi (Lorient)

Midfielders: Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane, Ghaylane Chaalali (both Esperance), Aissa Laidouni (Ferencvaros), Hannibal Mejbri (Birmingham City), Ferjani Sassi (Al Duhail), Elyas Skhiri (FC Cologne)

Forwards: Anis Ben Slimane (Brondby), Seifeddine Jaziri (Zamalek), Issam Jebali (Odense), Wahbi Khazri (Montpellier), Taha Yassine Khenissi (Kuwait SC), Youssef Msakni (Al Arabi), Naim Sliti (Al Ittifaq).

Goalkeepers: Aymen Dahmen (CS Sfaxien), Bechir Ben Said (US Monastir), Mouez Hassen (Club Africain), Aymen Mathlouthi (Etoile Sahel)

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