Tunisia need to overcome injury woes

When Nabil Maâloul took over from Henryk Kasperczak in April last year, after the FA’s president, Wadee Jaree, sacked the Pole, he kept to the same 4-2-3-1 formation against Egypt to win a qualifying match for the next Africa Cup of Nations.

Since then Maâloul has usually played either 4‑2‑3-1 or an offensive 4-3-3, depending on the opposition.

Although he prefers a three-man defence, he has to cope with the players at his disposal and continues to rely on Ali Maâloul (no relation), Syam Ben Youssef, Yassine Meriah and Rami Bedoui. However, Maâloul made changes for the most recent game, introducing Dylan Bronn instead of Bedoui and Yohan Benalouane instead of Syam.

Interestingly Maâloul opted to play with five defenders when Tunisia faced DR Congo in a critical World Cup qualifier. He will probably choose a 5-3-2 formation against England and Belgium while he should use a 4‑2‑3-1 against Panama. In midfield Mohamed Amine Ben Amor and Ferjani Sassi are almost sure to start.

However, the late call-up of Ellyes Skhiri may change things since Skhiri and Ben Amor complement each other well. Ghayléne Chaalali could be out of the XI, even though he has started almost all the matches since Maâloul took over. He will complete his midfield with Naïm Sliti on the left and either Saïf‑Eddine Khaoui or Anice Badri on the right, as the loss of Youssef Msakni to a cruciate ligament injury has left a void.

Finally Wahbi Khazri will lead the attack. The loss of Taha Yassine Khenissi to a thigh injury and Khazri’s good performances as a striker with Rennes mean Tunisia will use the attacking midfielder in a new role at the World Cup.

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