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Monday, 17 June, 2002, 10:22 GMT 11:22 UK
Africa's disgrace
Imed Mhadhebi trudges off the pitch
Tunisia crashed out with one point and one goal

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There were no "great expectations" for Tunisia in the 2002 World Cup.

Africa, and especially Tunisia's North African neighbors, did not see them as a team fit to pass the first round.

However, the shock came after their appalling performance, which was a great disappointment for all their fans.

Coach Ammar Souayah has been widely criticised for sending out strongly defensive-minded teams, even against Japan, a game the Carthage Eagles had to win 2-0 to qualify.

"He used defensive tactics against Japan in a game he had to win, he made the team play for his own image and not for the country," said former captain Tarek Dhiab.

"He did it so he can brag to the press when he returns home that he gained two points in WC 2002 opposed to a single point in France 98!"

Dhiab also described his country's performance against Russia in their opening game as a total failure.

"It was an insult to our intelligence to say that we were supposed to win the game against Russia," he said.

"We only reached their penalty box four times throughout the whole match!!"

Poor show

It seemed obvious that the Carthage Eagles arrived in Japan without their wings.

Tunisia went to the World Cup with no ambitions at all, just like the Chinese players, who apologized to their fans for being unable to pass the first round even before the tournament started.

This was despite luck being on their side when the draw was made, giving them a relatively easy group with Russia, who appeared in the World Cup after failing to show in France 98, Belgium, who lost track since hosting the Euro 2000, and finally Japan.

Even compared to the other African teams, they were playing in the easiest group.

They did not have to face the champions in the opening or to play the mighty Germany or to compete with major powers like Spain.

Throughout North Africa, many believe that a team such as Egypt or Morocco would definitely have made a much better impact.

Tunisia were eliminated from the group matches with barely a whimper, and for sure, no one will miss them.


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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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