Australia Meet Confident Tunisia In Must-Win Clash

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) #qatar 2022 #world cup teams desmond samith | The Peninsula

Australia meet Tunisia in a must-win World Cup afternoon clash at the Al Janoub Stadium today.

After a disastrous opening match of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 where defending champions France outclassed them with a 4-1 victory, Graham Arnold-coached Australia know that a defeat today will almost nullify their chances of qualifying from Group D. 

The mood in the Tunisian camp should be upbeat after a strong-willed performance against fancied Denmark in their opening fixture which ended 0-0. 

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The Socceroos are on a seven-match winless run at the World Cup, with their last group stage win coming against Serbia in 2010.

“It was good that the other result was a draw and now it's about winning on Saturday, so we have got to get ready for it,” Arnold said referring to their opponents Tunisia's draw against Denmark. 

“We've got the option of changing players and making sure we get some fresh ones out there.”

Australia players during a training session ahead of Tunisia game.

Australia started admirable well against France even scoring the first goal of the match through Craig Goodwin. But soon they came unstuck against a French side that plays a fast and hard brand of football upfront. 

Tunisia coach Jalel Kadri said they have spotted weaknesses in Australia which they hope to exploit. 

“I analysed the [France] match, not only this match but all other matches. We've seen unexpected results, strange results. We were surprised by the performance but not too surprised that France won, they are the title holders,” Kadri said yesterday.

“We know the smallest detail of the performances of the Australian team because we have analysed all of their previous matches, this is why we were not surprised by the score but we know they excelled in their stamina and fitness.

“They have players who are able to run fast, who can ensure a good exploitation of opportunities. Nevertheless, they have weaknesses we can hopefully exploit.”

Against Tunisia – a side known for their strong defence – Australia will depend heavily on their playmaker Aaron Mooy. The Celtic midfielder is a member of a fan-voted Socceroos team of the century. Australia will also hope that Ajdin Hrustic is fit and ready in the midfield for this important match as he is nursing an ankle injury. 

Tunisia's draw against Denmark in their opening fixture was the first time they maintained a clean sheet at the World Cup since 1978 when they held West Germany to a goalless draw. They have won only once in 13 group stage games since 1998, beating Panama four years ago.

Australia and Tunisia have met twice, with both winning a game. Their last meeting was at the Confederations Cup in 2005 where Tunisia won 2-0.

On the back of a strong showing against Denmark, Kadri will be hoping to guide Tunisia to a win against Australia and a possible entry into the round of 16 for the first time in what is also their sixth appearance at the World Cup finals.

Carthage Eagles will expect their captain and forward Youssef Msakni who plays for Al Arabi in the Qatar league to lead the charge against the Australia defence which crumbled against France. 

If Aïssa Laïdouni can replicate his robust show in the midfield against Denmark Tunisia are in with a strong chance of collecting three points against Australia. 

“There's a bit more pressure because Australia have nothing to lose now. It's like a final for them,” Tunisia defender Mohamed Dräger said.“We need to be ready like (Tuesday). With the same spirit and the same concentration we can achieve something.”

The Tunisians will also count on thousands of their supporters in Doha – as in their opening fixture - in this all important clash.

“We know the value of our Tunisian supporters in Doha, and the Tunisian diaspora,” Kadri said.“This gives us a strong morale boost.”

France lead the Group D with three points, Tunisia and Denmark are next with one point each and Australia trail with none.

When: Today at 1:00pm
Where: Al Janoub Stadium (Capacity: 44,325)

Key stats:
- Tunisia have won only once in 13 group stage games since 1998, beating Panama four years ago.
- Tunisia's 0-0 draw against Denmark in the group opener was their first clean sheet at the World Cup since 1978 when they held West Germany to a goalless draw.
- Australia are on a seven-match winless run at the World Cup (D1 L6). They last won a group game against Serbia in 2010.

Previous meetings:
- The teams have met each other twice, with both winning a game.
- They last met at the Confederations Cup in 2005 where Tunisia won 2-0 with the help of a brace from Francileudo dos Santos.


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