Tunisia Nabil Maaloul is encouraged by his players’ performance despite losing 2-1 to England in their World Cup opener.
The Africans were heading to share the points with the Three Lions after Ferjani Sassi’s 35th minute penalty had erased Harry Kane’s opener, however, the Tottenham Hotspur’s man late minute strike condemned them to defeat at the Volgograd Arena.
A dramatic victory for @England! #TUNENG pic.twitter.com/Ezjc1ZsMkw
— FIFA World Cup 🏆 (@FIFAWorldCup) June 18, 2018
Not minding this setback, the 55-year-old is more than impressed with the impressive display put up by his men against Gareth Southgate’s men.
“The Tunisian side has performed very well and we were able to defend for 90 minutes,” Maaloul said during the post-match conference.
“It’s true they controlled the match towards the end, they have excellent, speedy players. Alli, Lingard and Sterling when they come to the attack – let’s not forget Kane – they are excellent players and they were able to break through our defences.
“The fact Hassen our goalkeeper was also replaced has hurt us a little bit in a match playing at such a high level. If we have three such changes it disturbs the players but I want to thank all my players for their defensive players, they lived up to expectations and we were much stronger in the second half.
“They were highly disciplined in terms of our tactics and very strong up to 90 minutes before we conceded the second goal. There was a lot of discipline.”
Maaloul gave reasons why his players failed to create clear-cut chances against the former world champions while giving a positive insight ahead of their upcoming games.
“It’s true we did not create a lot of opportunities but we will learn in the future,” he continued.
“We were up against a highly skilled and coordinated team in terms of their forward players. Don’t forget we had two injuries and Ali Maaloul we should not have given him the time we gave him.
“We thought we would give him 60 minutes but he played throughout. We were able to play head-to-head and a draw would have been an excellent result for us. We hope we can show more concentration in the upcoming games.”
Tunisia are third in Group G and they seek redemption when they face Belgium on Saturday at the Otkritie Arena, Moscow.