A Harry Kane double condemned Tunisia to defeat in their Group G opener.

Bidding to get past the group stages for the first time in their World Cup history after four unsuccessful previous attempts, the Carthage Eagles now face a must-win situation in Moscow.

There is so much at stake in this clash as Belgium can seal a berth in the last 16 with victory, while Tunisia desperately need the three points to keep their knockout stage hopes alive.

Belgium’s imposing 3-0 victory over Panama in their group opening encounter on Monday makes Tunisia’s task difficult at the Otkrytiye Arena.

“It is true the Tunisian squad can feel the pressure now following its loss in the opening game and obviously the Belgian team is the one to be reckoned with,” said Maaloul in Friday’s pre-match press conference.

“We have to win tomorrow, we have no other choice. We will do our best to level with the Belgian team. As I have said before when we were drawn in this group we knew very well that the Belgian team was a very strong team but we are ready and hopefully God-willing we will be able to avoid the mistakes we made against England.

“I want to thank my players, I think that their performance was outstanding (versus England). Perhaps we will have a different style when facing Belgium but hopefully we will have the required level of performance.”

Thiery Henry, assistant coach of Belgium
Thiery Henry, assistant coach of Belgium
Fellow North Africans Egypt and Morocco have been eliminated from the World Cup and Tunisia feel compelled to stun Belgium and lessen the burden going into their last group match against Panama next Thursday.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez might not want to tamper with the starting team or strategy that carried them against Panama but that is not be the case with Maaloul, who is pressed for the right answers to avoid another defeat.

It is in attack that Maaloul has emphasised on his team’s need for potency.

What could be a boost for the Tunisians are Belgium’s injury concerns on Barcelona centre back Thomas Vermaelen and Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany.

“Perhaps we need to have more offensive tactics,” Maaloul said.

“So, it will be a very difficult game. The Belgium team as I said before is a team to be reckoned with but our team is capable of playing against Belgium and unlock their defence line. What we want to do is to be able to get to the backline of Belgium and to do that swiftly and quickly.”

Captain Wahbi Khazri is sure to spearhead Tunisia’s attack, supported by Esperance’s Anice Badri, Lille midfielder Naim Sliti and Fakhreddine Ben Youssef or Saif-Eddine Khaoui.

Saturday’s clash would be the second World Cup meeting between Tunisia and Belgium after cancelling out each other 1-1 at Korea-Japan 2002.

Source: Michael Madyira