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Tuesday, 4 June, 2002, 09:45 GMT 10:45 UK
Former star writes off Tunisia
Ziad Tlemcani
Tlemcani was top scorer in Japan in 1996

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The best Tunisia can hope for in the World Cup is to play well, according to Ziad Tlemcani.

The former Carthage Eagle, with over 50 caps to his name, believes the team will struggle to win a game.

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Tunisia have no big players and no big names
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Ziad Tlemcani
"I don't think the team will get any good results," Tlemcani told BBC Sport Online in Kobe, where Tunisia will kick off against Russia on Wednesday.

"I think that the Russian team is much more prepared."

Tlemcani, who was the first African ever to play in Japan, also feared that the hosts would prove too strong.

"The Japanese team began their preparations as soon as they knew they were going to hold the World Cup," he pointed out.

"They have a better chance or making the second round."

Tunisia had a woeful run of games in 2002, going eight full internationals without scoring before finally finding the net - in a 2-1 defeat to Denmark in their last warm-up match.

Lack of class

But Tlemcani, who played for Esperance in Tunisia and Vitoria de Guimaraes in Portugal before signing for J-league team Vissel Kobe in 1995, says the team have not helped themselves.

"The squad is very young, but I think the problem we have had this year is that by changing the coach four times it will not help us be competitive."

And the striker, who was the top scorer in Japan in his second season when Kobe won the championship, says the team lacks quality.

"I think Tunisia have no big players and no big names. There is a lack of world-class players. Unfortunately that's the truth."

"I think one or two players might be able to do something. Ziad Jaziri, the forward, is quick enough to cause problems to for some defences. And Radhi Jaidi is a good defender.

"Hatem Trabelsi, the right full-back from Ajax Amsterdam, is Tunisia's best player. But that's it."

Good performance

The North Africans face Russia in their first game at the Wing Stadium in Kobe on Wednesday, and Tlemcani, who now lives in Tunis, says all that people at home want is their team to play well.

"Our main target is to produce good football, to show to all the world that the Tunisian footballer is a good player.

"We know that we won't win the World Cup - what we want are good performances. That's all Tunisians are asking."


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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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