Trabelsi picks his 23 firefighters
Sami Trabelsi has named his 23-player squad which will travel to Blantyre this week to face the Flames of Malawi on Saturday. We already knew that the Esperance trio of Ousemma Darragi, Khaled Korbi, and Youssef Msekni were going to be missing due to suspension but a last minute adductor injury to our best defender of the moment, Toulouse’s Aymen Abdennour, has complicated matters further. Even so, there will be no excuses come match time as we have been preparing for the loss of the “Blood and Gold” representatives for some time in friendlies against Mali (4-2) and Jordan (3-3).
Goalkeepers: Aymen Mathlouthi (Etoile), Rami Jeridi (Stade Tunisien), Aymen Ben Ayoub (Club Africain)
Defenders: Anis Boussaidi (FC Rostov), Khalil Chammam (Esperance), Sameh Derbali (Esperance), Fateh Gharbi (Sfaxien), Walid Hichri (Esperance), Bilel Ifa (Club Africain), Ammar Jemal (Young Boys), Khaled Souissi (Arles-Avignon)
Midfielders: Adel Chedli (Etoile), Chady Hammami (Sfaxien), Iheb Msekni (Stade Tunisien), Houcine Ragued (Karabukspor), Majdi Traoui (Esperance), Zouhaier Dhaouadi (Club Africain)
Strikers: Sami Allagui (Mainz), Lamjed Chehoudi (Etoile), Amine Chermiti (FC Zurich), Salama Kasdaoui (Sfaxien), Issam Jemaa (Auxerre), Amir Omrani (Etoile)
What is likely to happen is we’ll see one of Ammar Jemal, Khaled Souissi, or Bilel Ifa take over Abdennour’s place and have Khalil Chammam take over the left side of defense. Another option would be to put Jemal on the left and then put Souissi or Ifa next to Walid Hichri who is sure to start if recent starting 11’s are anything to go by. Given how much better Jemal looked on the left when we faced Mali that might be a good idea. I haven’t managed to watch the Jordan friendly (in which he scored 2 penalty kicks) and am not sure where and how he played so if you can impart some knowledge please feel free.
It’s unfortunate to lose Abdennour in defense especially since that’s the part of the field where we’ve been struggling recently. We’re scoring goals rather freely, something we did little of in recent years, but our defensive solidity has taken a hit and it’s going to take a great deal of concentration and hard work to keep Malawi at bay in front of their fans. We can do it but our job definitely just got harder.
As we all know, this match is a must win for us. A loss would essentially be the end of our 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifying dream (I don’t see Malawi losing away to Chad) and a draw would leave us with a chance ahead of our last qualifier against Togo at home. The game also has taken on an extra bit of significance as the man who is behind our renaissance, Trabelsi, recently told Eurosport that if we don’t qualify then he’ll likely step aside. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen because he’s been nothing but good for us since he took over the mess that Marchand and his team got us in.
So long as Sami Allagui is his usual self and Zou is in form then I think we’ll be able to breach the Malawian defense. Plus you can always count on Issam Jemaa to pop up and score his customary goal even when he’s having a mediocre (or even bad) game. Tough to keep that guy off the scoresheet. Making a return is Amine Chermiti who could also make an impact off the bench.
Even in Darragi and the younger Msekni’s absence, we’re not hurting for firepower that’s for sure. It’s our wobbly defense that is more worrying these days. Odd to say that about a Tunisia team to be honest. Really not our style but it’s refreshing to know that we’re not going to sit back and wait for this one. We’re going to attack, we’re going to take risks, and we’re going to give ourselves a great chance to win in the process.
What do you think of the list? What would be your starting lineup? Inshallah marbou7a!
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