Roster changes for Sierra Leone qualifier
Sami Trabelsi has announced his squad for our 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sierra Leone set to be played in Freetown on September 8 and, at first glance, it’s an odd one. The defensive department has undergone the biggest makeover while our midfield and attack have remained pretty much intact.
Goalkeepers: Aymen Mathlouthi (Etoile), Farouk Ben Mustapha (CA Bizertin), Moez Ben Cherifia (Esperance)
Defenders: Aymen Abdennour (Toulouse), Walid Hichri (Esperance), Bilel Iffa (Club Africain), Anis Boussaidi (FC Rostov), Aymen Belaid (Etoile), Rami Bedoui (Etoile), Chamesdine Dhaouadi (Etoile), Fateh Gharbi (CS Sfaxien)
Midfielders: Nour Hadhria (CA Bizertin), Anis Ben Hatira (Hertha Berlin), Oussama Darragi (FC Sion), Jamel Saihi (Montepellier), Khaled Mouelhi (Esperance), Majdi Traoui (Esperance), Wissem Ben Yahia (Mersin), Chadi Hammami (Kuwaiti)
Strikers: Issam Jomaa (Kuwaiti), Saber Khelifa (Evian), Hamdi Harbaoui (Lokeren), Youssef Msakni (Esperance)
Gone are Ammar Jemal, Iheb Mbarki, and Khalil Chammam. In come Aymen Belaid, Chamsedine Dhaouadi, Rami Bedoui, and Walid Hichri. While the first two were selected for the recent Iran friendly (which I unfortunately haven’t been able to see for lack of a recording), Bedoui is getting his first callup and Hichri has been in and out of the roster for some time now.
On skill alone, it’s not surprising that these players have been included but their lack of international experience is a minor worry for such a crucial match. Nevertheless, with Aymen Abdennour and Bilel Iffa manning the middle (Ifa’s place being slightly less secure), we should have a solid reference point. Plus this isn’t Boussaidi or Gharbi’s first trip to sub-saharan Africa. I see Boussaidi starting but perhaps Belaid will get the nod ahead of Gharbi? One can be sure that Trabelsi didn’t bring the inexperienced players aboard as a favor.
Further up the field, Khaled Mouelhi has gotten a rare invitation (his first in five years apparently). Perhaps this is unsurprising given his performances for Esperance but notable in that he’s an older player who’s essentially replacing a youngster, Hatten Baratli, in the team. It’s unlikely that he’ll start but he could be a good late game substitution if we have a result we want to hold onto. The rest of the midfield features the usual suspects of recent Carthage Eagles iterations.
Meanwhile, despite his goal for Hertha Berlin, Sami Allagui has been dropped. This is probably because, as of yet, he’s failed to replicate his club form while wearing a national team jersey. Trabelsi, who has called him a “question mark” on prior occasions, seems intent on sending our German expat a message by overlooking him. Let’s hope it has the desired effect because he has qualities that we can benefit from when he’s at top form… especially if him and Ben Hatira keep developing their chemistry at club level.
After a closer look, the list isn’t as strange as it initially seems. Trabelsi hasn’t steered us wrong yet so let’s just hope he continues to improve the squad and brings back a precious win from Freetown. Inshallah marbou7a!
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