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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 December, 2003, 13:55 GMT
Tunisia naturalise Brazilian
Francileudo Silva dos Santos
Francileudo Silva dos Santos played for Etoile du Sahel for two seasons

Brazilian-born Francileudo Silva dos Santos will be able to play in the 2004 African Nations Cup after obtaining Tunisian citizenship.

Tunisia's Ministry of Sport released news confirming the player's status on Saturday.

His naturalisation will be a big boost for the Tunisian national team, who host the tournament which starts on 24 January.

Santos, who plays for French side Sochaux, played two seasons for Etoile du Sahel in Tunisia before moving to France at the start of the 2000 season.

On the day Santos received the news from Tunisia, he scored his ninth goal for Sochaux, who are fourth in the French league.

"I am very pleased to have Tunisian citizenship," the Tunisian news agency quoted Santos as saying.

"It is a country close to my heart and if I am selected by (Tunisia) coach Roger Lemerre, I will do my best to help the team go as far as possible."

Santos' naturalisation should be a major boost to Lemerre, since the former manager of France is seeking to reinforce his side.

Santos joined Etoile du Sahel in 1998, after a two-season spell with Belgian side Standard Liege.

The 24-year-old becomes the second Brazilian-born player to be naturalised for Tunisia after Jose Clayton, and the Esperance defender has played in the last two World Cup finals for the north African nation.

Earlier this year, Togo naturalised four Brazilian-born players in the hope they would lead the Hawks to the 2004 Nations Cup.

Despite Alessandro Faria, Jesus Fabio de Oliveira, Christiano Parreira and Jefferson de Souza playing key roles for their adopted country, Togo could only finish second in Group 5 and ceded qualification to Kenya.

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