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Tunisia star Youssef Msakni

FIFA World Cup preview: Tunisia

Of all the African nations, Tunisia are perhaps the least fancied heading into the FIFA World Cup.

After cruising through qualifying and finishing top of Group A, the Tunisians were rocked by a knee injury to star Youssef Msakni that has ruled him out of the finals.

If that wasn't bad enough, lady luck was not kind to them in the pool draw either. Tunisia will have to face England and Belgium in matches that will be very difficult to claim points out of, before a final matchup against the enigmatic Panama side that could go any which way.

Tunisia has just one win ever at the World Cup finals, which they claimed in their first appearance way back in 1978. Escaping the group stage seems a formidable task for a roster that has just run out of luck at a critical point in time.

The draw for Tunisia

June 19 v England

June 23 v Belgium

June 29 v Panama

The star players

The loss of Msakni cannot be understated.

This is a man who punched three goals into the net against Guinea in a 4-1 win in qualifying and played a critical role in Tunisia being here in the first place.

His injury opens the door for Wahbi Khazri, who is contracted with Sunderland but on loan to Rennes.

Ellyes Skhiri and Troyes’s Saif-Eddine Khaoui are two French-born players who recently made their debut for Tunisia. Their roles could ramp up now as a result as well.

What needs to go right

Everything. England and Belgium will be almost impossible to topple without their star goal scorer while carrying a veteran goalkeeper into the finals also makes Tunisia vulnerable in defence.

Ultimately the match against Panama will be their grand final, a chance to salvage a win or draw from the tournament and leave on a high.

About the Author Josh Alston

Josh Alston is a hack with over 12 years industry experience, covering sport across all codes for newspapers and online agencies. Known to frequent grade matches because of their cheap tinnies. Eventually graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism and a Masters in sitting on the hill when the local cricket side was playing. Softball premiership winner, rugby league legend in Year 10 and no stranger to Doomben Racecourse.

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