Tunisia coach says Arab teams need to ‘work harder and improve their performances’

Tunisia's coach Nabil Maaloul feels Arab nations have a long way to go before they can compete properly at a World Cup. (AFP)
Updated 29 June 2018
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Tunisia coach says Arab teams need to ‘work harder and improve their performances’

  • Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Morocco all exit at the group stage
  • 'We need to have more of our players in professional leagues'

SARANSK, Russia: Tunisia failed to reach the knockout stage of the World Cup at the fifth time of asking in Russia and coach Nabil Maaloul says they will continue to struggle on the biggest stage without drastic changes to the game in the country.
While the North Africans won their first World Cup game in 40 years on Thursday, a 2-1 win over new boys Panama, it counted for little after defeats to England and Belgium.
Maaloul said Tunisia and the other Arab countries at the tournament — Egypt, Morocco and Saudi Arabia — were just not equipped for success.
“We have four Arab teams that are not yet at the required level for the tournament, they still have to work harder and improve their performances,” said Maaloul.
“In order to do that, we need to have more of our players in professional leagues so they can learn and grow.”
All four sides exited the tournament in the first round, winning just two games between them, and no Arab country has ever reached the last eight.
“I don’t think we have high-quality performance, we need to change our lifestyle because it is not in line with high-level football, we need to change the way we train,” he said.
“We need two more generations to reach (the top) level of performance in terms of fitness and physical strength. We are far from the required level.”


Algeria ready for ‘match of a lifetime’ — Guedioura

Updated 19 July 2019
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Algeria ready for ‘match of a lifetime’ — Guedioura

  • The Cup of Nations showpiece marks the climax not only of Algeria’s campaign on the field, but of their fans’ recent political campaign in the stands

CAIRO: Algeria midfielder Adlene Guedioura says Friday’s Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal represents the “match of a lifetime” as his country bids to capture the title for a second time.

The Desert Foxes lifted their lone trophy on home soil in 1990 but coach Djamel Belmadi has reinvigorated a team that crashed out in the group stage two years ago and then flopped in World Cup qualifying.

“I think it’s the match of a lifetime for a lot of players in the team and for Algeria,” said Guedioura, who at 33 is the oldest member of the squad.

The Nottingham Forest journeyman has started five of six games in Egypt and insisted much of the credit for Algeria’s eye-catching performances must go to former national team midfielder Belmadi.

“He really knows the players and what he wants. The good thing is he knows how to get through to the players and how to listen,” said the 48-time international.

“If you don’t have a good cook you can’t have a good recipe. With that we realize we can be all together and it’s important to be a team.

“It’s important for Algeria because we used to have good individuals and now we feel very strong as a team and we want to achieve as a team.”

A Youcef Belaili goal earned Algeria a 1-0 victory over Senegal in the group stage, but Belmadi was quick to point out the statistics were heavily weighted in their opponents’ favor.

“Of course we can lose this match. We have an opponent that is number one in the FIFA rankings for Africa. They were at the World Cup. We were eliminated in the first round in 2017,” said Belmadi.

“If you get to the final, the aim is obviously to win it. The game in the group stage wasn’t decisive but now it is and that’s the difference.”

He added: “The most important is to stay concentrated and determined yet calm at the same time.”

Algeria will have the backing of an additional 4,800 fans for the final.

Some of them will arrive in Cairo on military planes organized by Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui.

The Cup of Nations showpiece marks the climax not only of Algeria’s campaign on the field, but of their fans’ recent political campaign in the stands.

In April, long-standing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned after weekly Friday protests against his expected candidacy for elections, and football fans have been heavily involved in demonstrations.

“We know what’s happening. The people we represent have been wonderful,” said Guedioura

“It’s magnificent what is happening. We’re focused on football but we want to win the final for the people,” he added.