The World Cup dreams of the entire Arab world now rest on Tunisia, coach Nabil Maaloul said Friday, after Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Egypt all failed to perform at football’s showpiece.
Maaloul said the run of results meant Tunisia’s do-or-die Group G clash with Belgium in Moscow on Saturday had added resonance for supporters far beyond the North African nation.
“There’s no doubt the eyes of the Arab world are turned towards Tunisia and their hopes are pinned on our team,” he said via an interpreter.
“Obviously we feel more pressure, we feel a sense of responsibility — we can’t lose tomorrow, we can’t disappoint tomorrow.”
Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Egypt have all been eliminated after losing their first two World Cup games.
Tunisia lost their opening match against England 2-1 but can keep alive their slim hopes of advancing from the group with a win over Belgium on Saturday.
“We have to deliver and do our best in spite of the many difficulties we’ll be facing,” Maaloul said.
Saudi Arabia and Egypt face one another in their final group match on Monday, while Morocco have a tough assignment against Spain and Tunisia’s last group match is against tournament debutants Panama.