Tunisia vs. Cameroon: The Preview
Defense: Felhi, Jaidi, Haggui, Bekri
Midfield: Traoui, Nafti, Mnari, Ben Saada
Strikers: Chikhaoui, Santos
According to Mosaique FM (which hasn’t been wrong so far), that is the lineup we will play with. It’s basically the defense from the Senegal game mixed with the midfield and strikers from the South Africa game. I honestly do not know how I feel about the decisions in defense especially. Some might cast a doubtful eye towards the glaring omission of Chermiti from the starting lineup but I was kind of expecting this after he played a full 90 minutes against Angola. Given that Lemerre favors using all the players at his disposal, I had a feeling Chermiti would only come on as substitute after expending a lot of energy in his first outing of the tournament. This leaves quite a bit of firepower on the bench with Jemaa and Ben Dhifallah also on the sidelines. It is no secret that Chermiti is a great player and my only hope is that he doesn’t come into the game at the 70th minute or something. Basically I say give Santos 55 minutes and if he doesn’t score sit him down and let Chermiti stretch the slow and aging defense of Cameroon.
It is clear when you look at who we’ve picked in defense that our chief concerns are Eto’o and Geremi as we took away Ben Fradj and Mikari who usually come up the flanks to offer support to the attack. I guess Lemerre and Maaloul don’t want to see Eto’o and others take advantage of the large spaces they leave behind them. I am leaning towards disagreeing with them though because their presence also gives us more options in attack and stretches the opposing team. Our coaches are the ones getting paid by the federation though and hopefully they earn those paychecks in this next game. We don’t want to come out of this wondering “what if.”
Their thought process must be that we will beat them on the counter attack using a solid and defensive back four as a base to start out attacks from once we steal the ball. It’s risky business considering we didn’t really show much in the first game besides the Jemaa goal. There wasn’t much build up play in the Senegal game and that would be a nightmare scenario. On the other hand, this is the fourth game of the tournament and you would expect more chemistry to have built by now so maybe this will work.
One thing that our technical staff has proven so far is that they are good at studying the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition and retooling their lineup accordingly. Hopefully the next game is no different as it is clear they’ve identified Cameroon’s huge problems with transition offense and defense. So if we play “en bloc” like we usually do and are steady in our positioning we can expect to steal a lot of balls in midfield, at which point we will play a vertical game like we saw Egypt do effectively in Cameroon’s opening loss.
Let me say that this is not the Cameroon of previous years. The Lions don’t look so indomitable to me. I didn’t see their last group match but in the two that I saw they looked a shadow of their former selves. Even Eto’o looked bored to me. Sure they scored a a lot of goals but that Zambian defense practically went out of their way to show them the path to the net. This isn’t to say that the game will be easy, it most definitely will not, but it is to say that they are well within our grasp and that with our astute field positioning and some good counter attacking football we can take them down. Ben Saada’s presence should help in this respect as he links between midfield and attack a lot better than Jemaa did. Even though Jemaa gives his all on the field and I respect him for it, sometimes he doesn’t give the most obvious passes that could lead to goals. Basically this is the game where Chikhaoui must shine brightest. He can’t afford to be isolated and tentative like against Senegal. I have faith that he will rise to the occasion.
Another way to go about it would have been to keep Ben Fradj and Mikari in order to add bodies to our own built attacks but I guess Lemerre has made it clear this is out of the question. Given what we’ve done so far in this tournament, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. One thing that’s good about this lineup is that Felhi will offer cover for Jaidi who has made some mistakes in this tournament. He’s getting better every game but he worries me sometimes. I am certain that a lot of people will be extremely upset to see our the return of our so called prudent lineup and I understand their nervousness. The thing is, if things go our way, this has the potential to work very well against this Cameroon team. I just hope thats at the end of the game the decisions will be justified and not frowned upon. There is no exact science but for now this is the plan.
If I hear anything new lineup related as the match approaches I’ll update this post with that information. For now this is what we know. Maybe tomorrows edition of Dimanche Sport will shed more light on all these issues. If you have an opinion please share it.
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