Preview: Tunisia v Saudi Arabia

Match 16 of the 2006 FIFA World Cup may not be one of the glamour fixtures of the tournament, but for the two competitors it marks the beginning of another Cup campaign and a chance of glory on the world stage.

    Tunisia coach Roger Lemerre seeks advice from above

    Tunisia and Saudi Arabia will be the final two teams to be unveiled at Germany 2006 with the Group H competitors sure to put on a great show at the FIFA World Cup Stadium in Munich.

    The only non-debuting African team at the 2006 tournament, Tunisia will draw on their experience of three previous World Cup Finals and will be looking to progress past the group stage for the first time in this their third consecutive tournament.

    Frenchman Roger Lemerre coached the 'Carthage Eagles' to the 2004 African Nations Cup title and will be looking to bury the ghosts of the last World Cup where his then title defending team France failed to win a match.


    "Every country dreams of reaching the second round of the World Cup at least once in their history. That's my dream too," said Lemerre.

    "The first two group matches will be decisive. After that day we will know where everyone is and what they have to do," he added.

    The Tunisians will be looking for big games from Samsunspor midfielder Kaies Ghodbare and Ajax Amsterdam defender Hatem Trabelsi, but will be without star striker Francileudo “Silva” Dos Santos until at least the second match of their tournament.

    Saudi Arabian midfielder
    Mohammed Noor

    The injured Dos Santos was the leading goal scorer for the North Africans in their qualifying matches and will be sorely missed, although talented forward Zied Jaziri will still be a force to be reckoned with for the Saudis.

    Making their debut on the world stage in 1994, Saudi Arabia have qualified for every World Cup Finals since, and thus go into their fourth consecutive tournament quietly confident.

    However, the Arabians will want to get off to a better start than last time, when they were on the end of a demoralising 8-0 thrashing at the hands of Germany at Japan/Korea 2002.


    Brazilian Marcos Paqueta is the 16th Saudi Arabian coach to be appointed in the past 12 years, and he will be relying on stalwart striker Sami Al-Jaber to ignite the team along with Al Ittihad midfielder Mohammed Noor.

    Referring to the feats of fellow coach, Dutchman Guus Hiddink, Paqueta was confident about his side’s chances at the tournament.

    "What Hiddink did with Korea in the previous World Cup is living proof that nothing is impossible in the world of football," said Paqueta.

    For Saudi Arabia and Tunisia the impossible starts in Munich on Wednesday.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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