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Tuesday, 21 May, 2002, 13:21 GMT 14:21 UK
Former star gives Tunisia no chance
Tunisia coach Ammar Souayah
Dhiab says changing coaches has not helped Tunisia

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Tunisia's former World Cup star Tarek Dhiab has said the current Carthage Eagles side have no chance of qualifying from the group stages in Korea and Japan.

Dhiab, who played a pivotal role in Tunisia's finest hour - a historic 3-1 victory over Mexico in the 1978 World Cup finals in Argentina - said he believes the present squad lacks character and mental toughness.

"I honestly do not see Tunisia advancing to the next stage of the World Cup," Dhiab told BBC Sport Online.

"This team is too physically limited and mentally unsettled to compete at the world stage at the moment," he added.

Though Tunisia cruised easily to a second consecutive World Cup qualification, they have been struggling of late.

After being eliminated at the group stage of the African Nations Cup in Mali in February, they have performed poorly in their friendly games in the run up to the World Cup, only ending an eight-game goal drought against French second division side Metz.

Lack of confidence

Dhiab, who was voted the 1977 African Player of the Year, blamed the poor form on instability and inexperience.

"We have changed national team coaches three times in the last twelve months and that hardly enhance confidence," he said.

"Besides, we do not have players competing in big European leagues like the Nigerians and Cameroonians. That was why we failed in 1998 and that is why we are unlikely to do well in Japan."

Tunisia is in Group H with co-hosts Japan, Belgium and Russia.

Dhaib predicted that Japan and Russia would qualify.

"I am impressed by Philippe Troussier's progress with Japan. With home support, they will be hard to beat.

"I tip them to lead the group. Russia have rebuilt their team and with their well known physical strength they look spot on to claim second spot."

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GROUP H
  P GD PTS
JAPAN 3 +3 7
BELGIUM 3 +1 5
RUSSIA 3 0 3
TUNISIA 3 -4 1

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