Sunday, April 1, 2018

Tunisia Greatest All-Time Team

World Cup 1978
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Tunisia have qualified for four FIFA World Cups, the first one in 1978, but have yet to make it out of the first round. Nevertheless, they created history in that 1978 tournament in Argentina by becoming the first African side to win a World Cup match, beating Mexico 3–1. They also held defending champions West Germany to a goalless draw before bowing out. They have since qualified for three tournaments in succession, in 1998, 2002, 2006, and have qualified for the 2018 finals. Tunisia also won the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations, when they hosted the tournament.


2004 Africa Cup of Nations
Team
GK: Sadok Sassi 
Sadok Sassi is considered one of the greatest players ever from his country.  He made his national team debut as a teenager.  However, he missed the 1978 world Cup Finals through an injury.  In a sixteen-years career, Sassi earned an impressive five league titles, eight cups, including three for Tunisia and the Maghreb. In 1972, he was goalkeeper for the African team at the mini-World Cup, hosted by Brazil.

GK: Aymen Mathlouthi
At the time of writing, Aymen Mathlouthi played over 70 times for Tunisia since he made his international debut in 2007. He won the 2011 African Nations Championship held in Sudan. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) chose Balbouli as the best goalkeeper in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.  He also went to the World Cup Finals in 2018. At the club level, he started with Club Africain in 2001. In 2003, he joined Étoile du Sahel, where he played until 2018. 
Aymen Mathlouthi
Essam El-Hadary
Essam El-Hadary
GK: Chokri El Ouaer 
Chokri El Ouaer began playing for Espérance Sportive de Tunis in 1986, spending his entire career there except for a six-month spell in Genoa in 2001, near the end of his career. He earned over 100 caps, but his total is not recognised by FIFA. He was accused of faking an injury in the CAF Champions League final in 2001 against Heart of Oak.

RB: Hatem Trabelsi 
Hatem Trabelsi has represented the Tunisia  in three World Cups (1998, 2002 and 2006), gaining a total of 66 cap from 1998 to 2006.  He was a part of the national team's 2004 African Nations' Cup winning team. He spent 6 years with Ajax Amsterdam from 2001 to 2006, where he was regarded as one of the best rightback playing in Europe and probably the most well-known player from his country. He has also played for CS Sfaxien, Manchester City and Al-Hilal Riyadh. 
Hatem Trabelsi 
RB/LB: Taieb Jebali
Taieb Jebali debuted as a footballer in 1954 with the Stade Tunisien.  After two years of his debut he won the Tunisian Cup. A year later he won for the first time the Championnat de Ligue Profesionelle and followed by three other Tunisian Cups, winning in 1962 both titles. He was also elected for three consecutive times as the best right-back in the league.

CB: Radhi Jaïdi
Radhi Jaïdi played for Espérance Sportive de Tunis between 1993 to 2004.  In 2004, he joined Bolton Wanderers on a free transfer from Espérance.  Two seasons later, he joined Birmingham City. From 2009 to 2012, Jaïdi played for Southampton. For international football, he played 105 times for Tunisia.  He was a part of the Golden Generation that won the 2004 African Cup of Nations and qualified for two World Cup Finals in 2002 and 2006. He served as the captain at the 2008 African Nation  Cup.
Radhi Jaïdi
CB: Mokhtar Dhouib
Mokhtar Dhouib played for the Sfaxien Sports Club with which he won the Tunisian championship during the 1977-1978 season. He participated in the 1978 World Cup held in Argentina. In the first match against Mexico, he scored the third goal in the 78th minute.  He was also semi-finalist of the 1978 African Cup of Nations. 

CB: Khaled Ben Yahia 
Khaled Ben Yahia spent his entire career with Esperance and won 7 league titles. He played with the Tunisian team from 1980 to 1994 and participated in the African Cup in 1982 and the 1988 Olympic Games. His club won the UAFA Club Championship in 1993 and a year later, the CAF Champions' League in 1994, beating Zamalek in the Final.

CB: Khaled Badra 
Badra joined Espérance Sportive de Tunis in 1996 and made a name for himself. He also played for Genoa C.F.C. in Seria B, Al-Ahli Jeddah in Saudi Premier League, and Denizlispor in the Turkish league. Badra began his international career while playing at the 1996 Summer Olympics. He was featured in both 1998 World Cup and 2002 World Cup, as well as the three African Nations Cups in that time. He was a part of the team that won the 2004 African Nations Cup.  
Khaled Badra 
CB: Mohieddine Seguir 
"Moha" Seguir was one of the greatest defenders from North Africa in the 1960's.  He played as a libero and was known as the "Beckenbauer" of Tunisia. He played 49 times for Tunisia between 1957 and 1963. Born February 4, 1936, he started at the J.S Metouienne. For his club career, he was played over 10 seasons for Stade Tunisien at home, where he was an idol.

LB: Hédi Berkhissa
Born in Tunisia, he spent part of his childhood in France. He returned to Tunisia.  He made his first appearance for Espérance when he was 18 years old.  His career ended in 1997 when he died of a heart attack during a match.   He won both the Arab Player Of the Year and Tunisian Player Of the Year in 1995.  Capped 26 times.

CM: Zoubeir Baya 
At the club level, Zoubeir Baya made name with  Etoile de Sahel at home.  From 1997 to 2001, he played for SC Freiburg in Germany.  From 2001 to 2002, he played for Besiktas in Turkey. He was twice named Tunisian Footballer of the Year. Baya suited up for his country at the 1998 and 2002 World Cup Finals, and at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He was also a key member of Tunisian sides that competed at the 1998, 2000 and 2002 African Nations Cup finals.
Zoubeir Baya 

CM: Kassen Hassouna 
Born in Tunisia, Kassen Hassouna began his career with Club athlétique bizertin. He moved to play in France for Le Havre in 1950.  he joined FC Lens in 1954 and returned to La Havre in 1958.  With FC Lens, he won the Coupe de France de football 1958-1959.  Tunisian national team did not exist during his professional career.  

CM: Hamadi Agrebi 
Hamadi Agrebi is also known as Mohamed Ben Rehaiem. Nicknamed "The Magician", he is considered one of the best Tunisian players of all time, with Tarak Dhiab, his selection partner with whom he shines during the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, where Tunisia became the first African country to win a WC match in the Finals.

RW/LW: Témime Lahzami 
Known as "Temime", Témime Lahzami is a striker and captain of the Tunisian team competing in the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, which Tunisia became the first African team to win a World Cup finals match when they beat Mexico 3-1 in the Group stage. In total, he scored twelve goals in 69 matches for Tunisia between 1977 and 1981. He played for Hammam Lif Sports Club, Esperance Sports Tunis, Olympique Marseille in France and Ittihad Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.
Témime Lahzami 
RW: Abdelhamid Hergal 
Abdelhamid Hergal is also known as Abdelhamid Ayari. For domestic football, he played mainly at home with Stade Tunisien.  He is the top scorer in the league, in the history of Stade Tunisien with 85 goals. Between 1990 and 1991, he played for SUR in Oman. He played 48 times for Tunisia. 

AM: Tarak Dhiab 
Tarak Dhiab was probably the most famous footballer from Tunisia. He won the African Footballer of the Year in 1977.  He led Tunisia to World Cup Finals in 1978, when Tunisia became the first African countries to win a World Cup match.  He was widely considered one of the best players from his country.  He was chosen the Tunisian footballer of the 20th century.  He played mainly for Espérance Sportive de Tunis. From 1978 to 1980, he played in Saudi Arabia with Al-Ahli Saudi FC.
Tarak Dhiab

CM/AM: Abdelmajid Chetali  
Abdelmajid Chetali is a legend with the Étoile Sportive du Sahel.  He played 70 times for the national team.  He competed in the 1960 Summer Olympics. At the 1965 African Cup of Nations held in Tunisia, he was the captain of the national team, where they lost to Ghana in the Final. He scored the equaliser to send the game into extra-time.

FW: Tahar Chaïbi 
Tahar Chaïbi spent his entire career with Club Africain from 1963 and 1975, where he played with Sadok Sassi.  He won 4 league titles with the club. He made his national team debut in 1965 at the age of 19 years old.  He was capped 34 times.  He was known with his partnership with Noureddine Diwa.

FW: Francileudo Santos
Francileudo Santos began his career with the junior ranks of Sampaio Corrêa in Brazil.  He then moved to Standard de Liège, Belgium. In 1998, he moved to play for Étoile Sportive du Sahel in Tunisia.  He also played in France and Switzerland at the club level.  He was a Brazilian by birth. In 2004, he started to represent Tunisia in football.  From 2004 to 2006, he was capped 40 times. He was a part of the 2004 African Nation Cup winning team. He also went to the World Cup Finals in 2006.
Francileudo Santos
FW: Noureddine Diwa 
Noureddine Diwa started with Stade Tunisien in 1955.  In 1957, he was contacted by Le Havre in France, but his club vetoed his transfer. At the end of the 1961-1962 season, however, he left for Limoges Football Club in France, where he played for five years.  For the national team, he was known for not playing up to his standard.

FW: Mohamed Akid
Mohamed Ali Akid spent his entire career with CS Sfaxien.  After the 1978 World Cup, he signed to play for Al Nasr Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, but his career ended with his death on April 12, 1979.  Officially, he was killed by lightning, but his death had been a conspiracy. An autopsy conducted 2012 revealed the presence of two bullets2 in his body, but this version is still in disputed.

ST: Issam Jemâa
Issam Jemâa started his footballing career for Espérance Sportive de Tunis. He played for French side Lens from 2005 to 2011. He also played in Kuwait, Qatar and UAE. He was capped 80 times from 2005 to 2014. He was called up to the 2006 World Cup Finals, but was later forced out from the squad due to injury. He was also called up to the Tunisian national team squad for the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana and the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.
Issam Jemâa
Honorable Mention
Mokhtar Naili, Al-Qasmy, Nabil Maâloul, Hassen Gabsi, Aymen Abdennour, Karim Haggui, Khaled Gasmi, Hamadi Agrebi, (2), Alaya Sassi, Kaies Ghodhbane, Adel Sellimi(?), Néjib Ghommidh, Raouf Ben Aziza

Squad Explanation
-- Mokhtar Naili started all three of Tunisia's matches at the historical 1978 World Cup Finals, but he was actually a backup to Sadok Sassi, who was considered the greatest goalkeeper from Tunisia of all-time.  He missed th Finals through an injury.  Instead, my two backup keepers are Chokri El Ouaer and Aymen Mathlouthi.
-- Hatem Trabelsi was the most successful player from Tunisia playing in Europe.  He was considered one of the best rightback in the world at his prime. Radhi Jaïdi was also selected for his European experience.
-- Aymen Abdennour also made an impact playing club football in Europe, but he needed more time to be considered. At the time of writing, he is only 28 years old. 
-- Hamadi Agrebi was also known as Mohamed Ben Rehaiem.  I found several highlights of his career on youtube, but I have no idea of his level.  He was on the 1978 World Cup team.
-- Information on Mohieddine Seguir is very limited.  I found his name on many all-time list for African greatest defenders of the 1960's.  Basically, I put his name on my team without knowing much about him.  I have one French source. He edged out Karim Haggui.
-- Kassen Hassouna was a early pioneer of the Tunisian footballer playing in Europe. His prime was played before the founding of Tunisian national team.  
-- Zoubeir Baya was Tunisia's key player as they finished second at the 1996 African Nations' Cup.
-- Riadh Bouazizi helped Tunisia to win the African Nations Cup in 2004.  He was his country's top player at the tournament.
-- Francileudo Santos is a naturalised player from Brazil. He was Tunisia's top scorer at the 2004 African Nations' Cup.
-- Tarak Dhiab was chosen The Tunisian footballer of the 20th century. 
-- Issam Jemâa is the all-time leading scorer for Tunisia. 



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