Mir­ror­man chalks up our first clash

Daily Mirror - - NEWS - BY ANDY LINES Chief Re­porter in Moscow

IT was the first big sport­ing clash be­tween Eng­land and Tu­nisia this week.

I didn’t re­ally expect to be play­ing pool against two World Cup play­ers lin­ing up against Eng­land in four days.

But once we got to the Tu­nisian team’s five-star ho­tel, an hour’s drive from Moscow, it ac­tu­ally hap­pened.

Ben Youssef Fakhred­dine and Yas­sine Me­riah were only too pleased to play dou­bles with me and snapper Andy Com­mins.

Fakhred­dine is one of the finest play­ers in Africa – named in the con­ti­nent’s all-star 2014 team of the year with ex-Man City star Yaya Toure and Arse­nal’s Pierre-Em­er­ick Aubameyang.

Two weeks ago, he scored against Portugal in a warm-up. But he strug­gled against the Mir­ror on the pool ta­ble!

We lost the first game on the black then won the sec­ond on it. The de­cider was put on hold as they went off for train­ing.

“We are very much look­ing for­ward to the game against Eng­land,” said Fakhred­dine, 26, who has been capped 39 times.

De­fender Me­riah, 24, who has been capped 14 times and scored once in the qual­i­fiers added: “You played very nice.”

Tu­nisia’s stars may have mea­gre salaries com­pared to Pre­mier­ship play­ers but Eng­land are def­i­nitely the pau­pers when it comes to ac­com­mo­da­tion. It’s Tu­nisia 1 Eng­land 0 on the World Cup ho­tels front! When we ar­rived at the Im­pe­rial Ho­tel & Spa the se­cu­rity was in­cred­i­ble, with three sep­a­rate checks to get in.

Inside, it is much nicer than Eng­land’s ho­tel in Repino.

There’s a mag­nif­i­cent sports fa­cil­ity in­clud­ing a gym, sauna, swim­ming pool and jacuzzi.

There are foot­ball pitches, in­door ten­nis courts and a bowling al­ley.

Karaoke, cin­ema and paint­balling are also on of­fer.

And if they want to prac­tice shoot­ing, they can visit the range and use bul­lets!

But they can­not roam the grounds alone and signs warn: “Be­ware of the bears.” LUX­URY Im­pe­rial Ho­tel

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