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MBABANE – Tunisia’s new coach Alain Giresse has retained most of the Russia 2018 World Cup players.

Giresse named his called-up players for the closing group J match against Eswatini’s senior national team Sihlangu on Tuesday afternoon. The Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2019 qualifier is scheduled for March 23 away in Tunis.

Interestingly, both Giresse and Sihlangu coach Kostadin Papic were appointed to their positions in December and the former is looking to start his job and end Tunisia’s qualification run with a win given his call-ups.


Tunisia have already qualified for the continental showpiece billed for Egypt, who also qualified last year while Eswatini managed a point in five gameswhile Niger have four points.
These are both coaches’ official debut matches with Giresse having not played even a friendly while Papic drew 1-all away to Mozambique last Sunday.
While there are some changes, Giresse retained most of the international stars who played the first leg and won 2-0 at Mavuso Sports Centre.

Most of them played in the World Cup last year. Manzini Sea Birds’ coach Anthony Mdluli was at the helm as interim at the time.


Tunisia will only play Eswatini on March 23 and Algeria in a friendly four days later. The Eagles of Carthage (Tunisia national team) have named internationals based in France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Italy, Tunisia and Egypt among others.

These include stars that local fans watched in the World Cup and at Mavuso Sports Centre like strikers Naim Sliti (Dijon, France), Issam Jebali (Rosenborg BK, Norway), Fakhreddine Ben Youssef (Al Ettifaq FC, Saudi Arabia) and midfielder Ellyes Skhiri (Montpellier SC, France) as well as recalled first choice goalkeeper Moez Hassen after an injury against England in last year’s World Cup.


Egypt-based Ali Maaloul of Al Ahly and Zamalek midfielder Ferjani Sassi have been also called-up. Maaloul is reportedly having an excellent season with Al Ahly, scoring five goals while assisting nine in 20 games this season, despite missing 10 matches due to injury.
Meanwhile, Sassi has been one of Zamalek’s most consistent players this season, helping the whites top the league table thanks to his six goals and three assists in 18 games.
“We must take into consideration what Msakni represents to the national team,” Giresse told BBC Sport.
“He suffered a serious injury, but has now recovered. We must give him the opportunity to get back up to speed and know that the team is expecting great things from him. This is a preliminary list, but 80-90 per cent of the players on it will be representing Tunisia at the Cup of Nations.

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