Tu­nisia name France-born quar­tet in squad for friendly match against Iran

Tehran Times - - SPORTS -

Tu­nisia coach Na­bil Maaloul has named four France-born play­ers, in­clud­ing Le­ices­ter City de­fender Yo­han Be­nalouane, in his 28-man squad for this month’s World Cup warm-up matches against Iran and Costa Rica.

For­mer France youth in­ter­na­tion­als Seifed­dine Khaoui, El­lyes Skhiri and Mouez Hassen, who all pledged their fu­tures to the Carthage Ea­gles this year, have been called up.

But Le­ices­ter’s Yo­han Be­nalouane, who had pre­vi­ously re­jected Tu­nisia, was a sur­prise in­clu­sion for the fix­tures against Iran and Costa Rica.

Tu­nisia will play Iran at home on 23 March and then Costa Rica in France four days later.

Cen­tre-back Be­nalouane is a for­mer France Un­der-21 in­ter­na­tional and de­spite opt­ing to rep­re­sent Tu­nisia - the coun­try of his par­ents - in 2010, he re­fused to honor sev­eral calls to play for the North Africans.

Ex­pe­ri­enced de­fender Ay­men Ab­den­nour, 28, has been over­looked due to lack of play­ing time at French club Mar­seille, while star quin­tet of Youssef Msakni, Wahbi Khazri, Mo­hamed Amine Ben Amor, Ali Maaloul and Naïm Sl­iti is in­cluded.

Maaloul is hop­ing the new­com­ers will add to the depth of tal­ent he can choose from ahead of the fi­nal warm-up fix­ture against Spain in the Rus­sian city of Krasnodar on 9 June.

He will seek to use as many of the play­ers as pos­si­ble in friendly games as he looks to get his Carthage Ea­gles squad into shape be­fore their open­ing 2018 World Cup match against Eng­land on 18 June.

Tu­nisia’s match against Eng­land will be the sec­ond World Cup meet­ing be­tween the two coun­tries af­ter they lost the first 2-0 to the Three Lions at France ‘98.

The North Africans will face Bel­gium in their sec­ond group game, with Panama com­plet­ing Group G.

Cam­paign­ers at three suc­ces­sive FIFA World Cups be­tween 1998 and 2006, Tu­nisia missed the tour­na­ments in South Africa in 2010 and Brazil 2014.

Tu­nisia, who are re­turn­ing to the World Cup fi­nals af­ter a 12-year ab­sence, topped a tricky qual­i­fy­ing group con­tain­ing DR Congo, Guinea and Libya to seal their place in Rus­sia.

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