Chants of “YOU-ez, YOU-ez, YOU-ez” will reverberate throughout the Stade du South as Tunisia, with overwhelming support as if they were playing for their country, will play Australia on Saturday in their second World Cup match. .
Tunisia, one of the four Arab teams that participated in the first World Cup in the Middle East, had perhaps the loudest supporters in the first round of matches when they drew 0-0 against Denmark, semi-finalists in the last European Championship.
Support does not come only from Tunisians. Fans waving Palestinian flags followed the team, as did fans from Egypt and Algeria.
Fans dressed in red were hit by the Tunisian team’s bus upon their arrival in Qatar last week.
Coach Jalal Kadri said, “We know the value of our Tunisian fans in Doha and the value of the Tunisian expatriates. This gives us a strong morale boost.”
Expectations are high for both teams after Australia lost 4-1 to reigning champions France in their first meeting.
The four French goals came after attacks from the flanks, three of which were headers.
“Obviously hitting three goals down the wings is a very obvious lesson to learn. Obviously we need to manage the passes better,” said Australian midfielder Jackson Irvine.
France leads the group with three points, followed by Tunisia and Denmark with one point each. Australia, with the square at zero, is last.
Tunisia is looking to qualify from the group stage for the first time in its sixth appearance at the World Cup, while Australia has reached the last 16 only once, in 2016, in five matches.
“There’s more pressure because Australia has nothing to lose. It’s like a final for them,” said Tunisian defender Mohamed Drager. “We have to be ready (like on Tuesday). With the same spirit and focus we can achieve something.”
The Tunisian spirit is embodied in combative midfielder Issa Al-Aidouni, who received the best votes in a match against Denmark in his baptism in the World Cup.
Alliedoni set the tone in the first minute, snatching the ball from Christian Eriksen with an aggressive tackle, after which he got up and waved his arms menacingly, a gesture that further inflamed the crowd.
“It is important that we start the match with a lot of determination. This is a World Cup, it is not a small competition… It is also important that we show (the fans) that we are determined,” he told Eidouni.
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