Tunisia suffer another injury blow as No. 1 keeper is ruled out of World Cup

Tunisia's goalkeeper Mouez Hassen leaves the pitch after injuring his shoulder against England. (AFP)
Updated 20 June 2018
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Tunisia suffer another injury blow as No. 1 keeper is ruled out of World Cup

  • Moez Hassen will play no further part in the tournament
  • Coach Nabil Maaloul has now lost three of his key players to injury

Tunisia goalkeeper Moez Hassen has been ruled out of the World Cup after dislocating his left shoulder in the team’s 2-1 loss to England on Monday night.
The team posted the injury update on Twitter, saying Hassen was the “victim of a dislocation” and the injury was “very bad news for Tunisia.”
Hassen collided with England’s Jesse Lingard in the fifth minute in the match at Volgograd. But he remained on the field and even pulled off a fine save — clawing away John Stones’ header from Ashley Young’s corner — before Harry Kane scored the opening goal for England.
Hassen was forced off in the 15th and replaced by Ben Mustapha.
The news is a further blow to coach Nabil Maaloul, who is already without Youssef Msakni and Yassine Khenissi. Mskani, who got a hat-trick in the qualifying win over Guinea, was ruled out pre-tournament with a knee injury, while Khenissi, who was the leading goalscorer in last year’s CAF Champions League, was ruled out with a thigh injury.
Tunisia squad has returned to its World Cup training base in Moscow to prepare for Saturday’s Group G game against Belgium.


River Plate told to take Al-Ain challenge seriously in FIFA Club World Cup last-four clash

Updated 17 December 2018
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River Plate told to take Al-Ain challenge seriously in FIFA Club World Cup last-four clash

  • Marcelo Gallardo warns side UAE champions will provide a tough challenge.
  • Winners likely to face Real Madrid to have to overcome Kashima Antlers in their semifinal.

LONDON: River Plate go into today’s FIFA Club World Cup as overwhelming favorites but have been warned that if they take victory for granted against Al-Ain they could face an embarrassing early exit from the UAE.
From the start of the tournament it has been widely expected that the final would be between the Copa Libertadores winners and the defending champions, Real Madrid. Both sides enter the competition at the semifinal stage — River this evening at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, and Real at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi. But the message from River boss Marcelo Gallardo to his players is that they cannot take it easy against the UAE champions.
“We had the chance to watch both Al-Ain matches, good to see this team in action, I think it is going to be a tough match for us,” the Argentine coach said.
“They have shown they deserve to be in the semifinal, They are dangerous when they attack, we have to play with a high level of concentration.”
Such is the nature of the tournament — the bigger teams get byes to the last-four stage — that there is always an inbuilt advantage for the likes of Real and River. Al-Ain’s journey has been more arduous and tiring. “The Boss” were 3-0 down before half-time against Team Wellington in the opener last week, before storming back to make it 3-3 and winning the subsequent penalty shootout 4-3. They then shocked the African Champions League champions Esperance de Tunis 3-0 on Saturday.
But Gallardo, above, is not expecting any advantage for his side, despite the fact they should have the fresher legs.
“I don’t know the fact that Al-Ain have played 210 mins is an advantage for us,” he said. “They will have a lot of good feelings as the host team qualifying for the semifinal. They have performed well to get this far.”
Caio is the Al-Ain danger man River will have to keep an eye on. The Brazilian would doubtless love nothing more than to help his UAE side topple the Argentine giants. Gallardo, however, claimed Al-Ain have many threats and his side would not fall into the trap of concentrating too much on one man.
“Caio is one of the top players in Al-Ain but we cannot think only of him, they have many other good players. He is a very important player for them,” he said.
If there is a worry it is that River might still be tired from the journey and mentally sapped after their controversial Copa Libertadores win against arch-rivals Boca Juniors. The second leg of that clash had to be called off due to fan violence which saw the Boca coach attacked. Ultimately the match was replayed at Real’s Bernabeu stadium in Madrid and a 3-1 win for River saw them, and not their Buenos Aires neighbors, make the trip to the UAE.
“Our aim is to play in the final, it would be important for us to play in the final and win it but first we have to get past (Al-Ain),” Gallardo said. “Our Copa win will last forever, it is always there. But knowing the players as I do, the players will not stop — they want to carry on winning.
“The difficult thing was to change our approach quickly, time difference, finding it difficult to sleep especially when you are on a high. But I told them, let’s think about what’s coming as it’s a privilege. The message was we have to adapt quickly to a new country.”