Mirrorman chalks up our first clash
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