Tunisia eye England scalp in first World Cup clash

Tunisia eye England scalp in first World Cup clash
Tunisia's Wahbi Khazri attends a training session of the Tunisian national soccer team in Moscow

by Helder Ribiero

Sunday Jun 17, 2018. 17:30

Tunisia will lock horns England in their first 2018 FIFA World Cup Group G match at the Volgograd Stadium in Russia on Monday.

Kick-off is at 20h00 CAT.

The 2004 African champions will be keen to start their group stage campaign with a win as they make their return to the global tournament after a 12-year absence.

Nicknamed Carthage Eagles, Tunisia are back in the finals after winning their finals qualifying group convincingly last year.

Some of Tunisia’s key players are Fakhreddine Ben Youssef and Wahbi Khazri, but North African side are not expected to reach the Round of 16.

However, Ferjani Sassi, the Carthage Eagles defensive midfielder, is optimistic about their chances of finishing in the top two positions.

“We came here to get some good results. Like I said, we’ll take things one match at a time,” Sassi said.

“We’ll be looking to make a good start against England and give ourselves a confidence boost.

“We’ll be going for the win in every game and our aim is to make the second round of the competition,” the Al Nasr Riyad defensive midfielder.

“We’ll need to play well against England if we want to keep this adventure going. We’re very confident and we don’t fear anyone, as we showed in the friendly against Spain.

“I hope that our destiny will still be in our hands by the time we face Panama.”

Meanwhile, England will be desperate to start their World Cup campaign with a win having failed to reach the Round of 16 in their previous tournament.

The Three Lions were also impressive during the qualifying campaign as they won their group undefeated - having recorded eight wins and two draws.

Striker Harry Kane and attacking midfielder Dele Alli are some of the players to watch out for in the Three Lions squad.

England tactician Gareth Southgate is the man in charge of the 1966 World Cup champions and he believes that his charges are ready for their clash with Tunisia.

“They're ready. They know the way we want to play. They're clear on the opposition. The players know the team and I think that's helpful. Everything's settled. They know their jobs,” Southgate said.

"The guys that aren't in the team, they're prepared and they've trained well. They become a key part of what we do now.

"Their role is even more important. They have to support the team and be ready, because anything can happen. We only progress as a collective."

In head-to-head stats according to the FIFA.com, Tunisia and England have met twice.

The Three Lions have secured one win against the Carthage Lions, while the other game ended in a draw.

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