QATAR: On Wednesday, a rejuvenated Tunisia stunned France, a team mostly made up of backup players. However, the North Africans’ 1-0 victory over the World Cup champions proved inadequate for them to advance to the knockout stages.
Tunisia’s victory mode defeated France
Tunisia roared onto the field to take on a disjointed French team with nine changes from the team that beat Denmark and needed to beat already-qualified France to advance. Denmark also needed to avoid defeat against Australia in the other Group D game.
However, Tunisia’s victory over the 2018 World Cup champions was insufficient to advance to the next round because Australia defeated Denmark 1-0 to secure second place in Group D. As a result, Tunisia maintains its regrettable record of never making it past the group stage in any of its six World Cup appearances.
Wahbi Khazri scored in the 58th minute when he dribbled into the box and slipped the ball past backup goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, the oldest Frenchman to play in a World Cup match at 37. The victory for Tunisia also ended France’s six-match World Cup winning streak.
Khazri said that Tunisia had a “bittersweet feeling” at the end of their World Cup journey because they were happy to have defeated France but saddened by the outcome of the other group game. Tunisia also had an early chance when Nader Ghandri scored from a free kick, but an offside disallowed the goal.
The fans at Education City whistled at the French national anthem before kick-off, indicating the level of hostility from the stands from the beginning. The same thing had occurred during a passionate friendly match between France and its former colony in Paris in 2008.
Didier Deschamps, the French manager, rested his star players for the final group game. He gave players who typically don’t feature in many games a taste of the action in the middle. However, France’s bench lacked cohesion, and the desperate to score Tunisia constantly pushed back and split the French back line wide open.
Khazri’s goal made Deschamps bring stars like Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann into the attack to inject fire into the lacklustre French performance. Mbappe and Griezmann energized the French, and Tunisia sat back in the hope of keeping their win helped them.
In the final minutes of their match, the winning team’s bench personnel and substitutes closely followed the other crucial group stage game. France continued hoping to avoid a defeat, but an offside call disallowed Griezmann’s late goal.