Tunisia's Bilel Mohsni (L) in action against Guinea's Naby Keita (R)
Thursday Jun 14, 2018. 10:00
Former Rangers and Dundee United defender Bilel Mohsni has slammed his omission from Tunisia’s 2018 World Cup squad, calling it an “injustice”.
The 30-year-old centre-back was part of the Carthage Eagles’ preliminary list of 29 players chosen by coach Nabil Maaloul, but last week he was left out of the final 23-man list for the finals in Russia.
Mohsni, who is currently a free agent after leaving Dundee at the end of the 2017/18 season, says the reasons for his omission had “nothing to do with football”.
The French-born defender is quoted by the Daily Record: “It was my dream to be at the World Cup but I just knew I wasn’t going to make it.
“It had nothing to do with football. I am the best defender in Tunisia for sure. I played 14 games in two months for Dundee United but the coach said I wasn’t ready.
“Yet there was one guy picked who only played one first-team game in a whole year. That is injustice.
“Tell me – who is match fit or not? Someone who has played a lot of competitive matches recently or someone else who has just played once.
“When I arrived at the international camp I was full of confidence and even scoring goals.
“After each training session we played 11 versus 11 and I won most of those games. All of the players knew I was the best defender there.
“They obviously couldn’t speak out but knew I should have been in the 23-man squad at least.
“They were so shocked. How come I hadn’t played for so long before going to Dundee United but was still better than them?
“We were doing 15-second sprints and I was finishing them in 10 seconds. They were just looking at me and thinking, ‘Wow’.
“The problem was the coach just didn’t give me my chance. We had two friendlies – for one I was on the bench against Portugal and for the other I was in the stand against Turkey.
“He knew if I got the chance he wouldn’t be able to take me out of the team. I saw it with my own eyes.
“There were lots of funny things going on. I knew from the second week there it wasn’t going to happen.
“It’s because I wasn’t born in Tunisia and am not a fan of one of the big four clubs in the country.
“Those clubs have a lot of power in the national team. Nobody helped me get to where I am now in my career.
“When I was younger I was frustrated because so many managers and chairmen blocked me from going to the very top and it’s happened again.
“Now I just need to pick myself up and get my career going again.
“I know I can play at a high level so I have to just get over this disappointment.
“Teams in France and the Bundesliga in Germany told me they would sign me if I got to 23-man squad for the World Cup. But it all changed because I didn’t get there.”