Future opponents of France during the group stage of the World Cup in Qatar, the Carthage Eagles will play their last preparation match this Tuesday evening against Brazil in a Parc des Princes which should be largely tinged with red and white. Report in the heart of the Tunisian supporters.
It is 4 p.m. this Sunday when around thirty supporters arrive in front of the gates of the Parc Omnisports de Croissy-sur-Seine, dressed in Tunisian jerseys and flags. No doubt, the selection of Jalel Kadri is not far away.
Confirmation an hour later when the Carthage Eagles bus approaches, surrounded by fans chanting songs to the glory of the selection, singing the anthem Humat Al Hima and lighting a smoke bomb. The preparation match between Brazil and their selection is in everyone’s mind. “For all the dual nationals all over the world, we don’t always have the chance to see them in our country, rejoices Youcef. And in addition it’s against Brazil, it’s a great chance for us. “
“It’s a dream, outbids Aladine, cap screwed on his head and national flag on his shoulders. I’m moved. We’re going to see Neymar, Casemiro, Vinicius face our players like Khazri, Talbi, Laidouni or Sliti, it’s something big.” Bilel summarizes: “A Tunisia-Brazil here in France is only once in a lifetime.”
On the other side of the gates, the Eagles train on the “difficult” lawn of a municipal stadium where they won 1-0 against the Comoros last Thursday. “It will be a different pitch on Tuesday against Brazil,” said captain Whabi Khazri. “It’s the last match before the World Cup, it will be important to show good things for confidence, to compete with them and to put them in difficulty on certain points, especially to try to contain their offensives.”
“We will have almost no preparation before the competition, so for us it is the ideal test to face one of the best teams in the world”, engages the former Montpellier midfielder Ellyes Skhiri, today in Cologne. As for his teammate Dylan Bronn, defender who passed through Metz, he promises a show: “The Parc des Princes is magnificent, the lawn too, technically it will be beautiful to see.”
A Parc des Princes committed to the cause of Tunisians
In the stands too, the meeting, sold out for a fortnight, will be lively. “It will be a fiery atmosphere,” says Rachid, World Cup trophy in hand. “The Park will be red and white, I’m sure.” A few meters away, Saïd, Tunisia scarf around his neck, is thrilled. Supporter of the Eagles, he organized a rally from 5 p.m. in front of the Auteuil stand of the Parc des Princes on Tuesday and is at the initiative of the meeting of supporters this Sunday. “It’s a dream for Tunisians who come from France but also those who will arrive from all over the world. They are our heroes, our gladiators.”
Expected en masse in the PSG enclosure from Paris and its suburbs but also from Toulouse, Lyon, Marseille and even the United Kingdom and Tunisia, the fans have already prepared a large flag and four large banners, including one representing each logo of Tunisian clubs, clubism being very present in the country, sometimes to the detriment of the selection. “It’s a state of mind that is starting to disappear, explains Amine from the Espérance Sportive de Tunis supporters unit in France. Currently, 90% of the national workforce plays abroad so we don’t have liked this mentality where every fan wanted to see the player of his favorite team. We must have three local players selected for the national team today.” On Tuesday, they will therefore all be united behind the Eagles of Carthage. “I think the stadium will be full and mostly to support us, recognizes Ellyes Skhiri. It will be a fantastic evening, it’s up to us to take the public with us.”
“If we beat France in Qatar, we will have won our World Cup”
Most of them will also be in Qatar in less than two months. “There is a strong Tunisian diaspora there, says Wissem Ben Haj Yahia, journalist for Tunisie-Foot. It was also felt during the Arab Cup in Qatar. There were flags everywhere, the anthem had resounded in the stadium. We will not be out of place, the public will be the twelfth man.”
For its sixth participation in a World Cup, the 30th nation in the FIFA rankings will seek to pass the group stage for the first time. “The course of making a good figure is over, says Kaïs Ben Mrad, journalist for the Alhasri newspaper. There was excellent participation in 1978 by becoming the first Arab and African country to win a World Cup match, since that was half fig half grape. In Qatar, with the massive presence of our supporters, Tunisia has the means to hope to pass the first round.”
For most supporters, the capital match will be the first, against Denmark, before facing Australia and ending with the Blues. “Every time against France it’s a somewhat special match, says assistant coach Ali Boumnijel. They are top-level players, sometimes even in another galaxy.” The mere mention of the meeting makes Ellyes Skhiri smile. “It’s a dream draw! I grew up in this country, I know it by heart, it will be a very watched and eagerly awaited match, we will have great motivation, it will be a great pleasure to face almost the best players of the world.” For Dylann Bronn, on the other hand, “there will be no particular flavor. We have already played great matches against great teams, we know how it goes, we will have to respond.”
They are more torn. Tunisians born in France are impatiently awaiting the poster for November 30 (4 p.m.). “I can’t wait,” enthuses Aladine, before recalling: “There is a special bond between our two nations. The last confrontation dates back quite a few years (2010 in Rades, editor’s note) and ended in a draw (1-1).” Rachid hopes for his part to experience “a historic match. I’ve been waiting so long to see a game like this, it’s going to be a big party. People don’t really know our potential, the French shouldn’t underestimate Tunisia because I’ve heard a lot of things and that’s not good at all (laughs).
“We were born here, the heart is there, it’s complicated, Yacine hesitates. May the best win… but I will be for Tunisia.” Tnani Baddredine too. Photographer, he follows the selection since 1998. “With France, we are two friendly countries which play almost the same football but not at the same level. Many French coaches came to Tunisia and had good results, one of between them won the African Champions League with Etoile du Sahel in 2007 (Bertrand Marchand, editor’s note), we won the CAN with Roger Lemerre in 2004, the best memory of the Tunisians. If we manage to beat France, it’s as if we had won the World Cup, after that we can go home.” And, who knows, bring the Blues back to France sooner than expected.
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Brazil-Tunisia: “A dream!”, in the hearts of Tunisian fans before the gala match at the Parc des Princes
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