DOHA: Tunisia’s Hannibal Mejbri (L) and Nader Ghandri practice headers during a training session at the Al Egla Training Site 3 on Tuesday, ahead of their Group ‘D’ encounter against France. Nothing is impossible, Tunisia coach Jalel Kadri said as he looked at Wednesday’s showdown that could determine if his team reaches the knockout stage for the first time in six attempts. Parked at the bottom of the group and yet to score a goal, the one certain thing is that the Carthage Eagles face a monumental challenge at the Education City Stadium. Tunisia grabbed what had seemed an unlikely point in their opener battling Denmark to a scoreless draw which was followed by a shutout 1-0 loss to Australia. Finding the back of the net has not been a problem for France, who took down the Socceroos 4-1 and locked up a place in the knockout round with a 2-1 win over Denmark.—Reuters
DOHA: Tunisia’s Hannibal Mejbri (L) and Nader Ghandri practice headers during a training session at the Al Egla Training Site 3 on Tuesday, ahead of their Group ‘D’ encounter against France. Nothing is impossible, Tunisia coach Jalel Kadri said as he looked at Wednesday’s showdown that could determine if his team reaches the knockout stage for the first time in six attempts. Parked at the bottom of the group and yet to score a goal, the one certain thing is that the Carthage Eagles face a monumental challenge at the Education City Stadium. Tunisia grabbed what had seemed an unlikely point in their opener battling Denmark to a scoreless draw which was followed by a shutout 1-0 loss to Australia. Finding the back of the net has not been a problem for France, who took down the Socceroos 4-1 and locked up a place in the knockout round with a 2-1 win over Denmark.—Reuters

DOHA: The lack of goals is a “serious” issue for Mexico but the blame should not be just on their strikers, coach Gerardo Martino said ahead of Wednesday’s must-win World Cup Group ‘C’ match against Saudi Arabia.

Toothless attack had been a concern for Mexico ahead of the World Cup and they are yet to score in Qatar, with the team rooted to the bottom of their group with one point after a 0-0 draw with Poland and a 2-0 defeat by Argentina.

Mexico reached the last 16 in each of the previous seven World Cups, but they risk getting knocked out of the group stage should they fail to beat Saudi Arabia.

Asked if he was worried about the team’s poor form in front of goal, Martino told reporters on Tuesday: “Right now, this is serious because we need to score in the game tomorrow.

“What happened during the last year was due to different reasons as we had our attacking players facing physical issues. Some of them are in good condition at the World Cup, but this is not just about attackers. We all share our responsibilities.

“It is up to the whole team not just certain positions.”Argentina, Mexico and Poland may all have been fancied to progress from Group ‘C’ ahead of Saudi Arabia, but after their stunning win over the Argentines, the Saudis are firmly in the mix for qualifying in the next round.

A draw would mean they need Poland to beat Argentina, while a defeat would make the permutations complicated, as they would need to lose by only one goal while hoping that Poland win their match by a bigger margin.

In their five previous participations, Saudi Arabia have qualified for the round of 16 only once, on their debut at the tournament in 1994.

Poland lead the group on four points, one ahead of Argentina and Saudi Arabia, while Mexico are on one point. If Saudi Arabia want to progress they will have to beat Mexico, regardless of the outcome of the match between Poland and Argentina.

Saudi Arabia stunned the football world when they defeated Argentina 2-1 in their opening group game, only to lose 2-0 to Poland in their second match.

“No one around the world thought that we could play with this level. Yes, in Saudi Arabia we know the players well, but they are unknown to the fans around the world,” Saudi coach Herve Renard told a news conference after the Poland game. “We are still alive.”.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2022

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