The issue of Tunisian players born in Europe and holding dual citizenship has resurfaced in Tunisia, coinciding with the start of the preparations for the Carthage Eagles team to participate in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The dispute over players who received their training in football clubs and academies in the old continent is an old issue that has often sparked an endless debate about the Tunisian national team’s eligibility to benefit from the services of players with dual citizenship, but some of them were often under the temptations of countries of origin to defend the colors of their teams.
After the Tunisian national team qualified for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, the Football Association intensified its efforts to persuade these people to play for Tunisia and put an end to the attempts of European teams, especially France, to include them in it.
Al-Majbari chose Al-Nosour camp
The Tunisian national team succeeded in convincing a number of young players in Europe who were around the corner from strengthening the national team of the country of residence, and at the forefront of these comes Hannibal Al-Majbri, the average of the Manchester United field, who chose to defend the Tunisian colors and refused an invitation that was addressed to him by the France team (without 21 years old) in September 2021.
Al-Majbri, who was chosen among the top 3 young players in Africa for the current year, participated in the Tunisian national team in 18 matches, and was also strongly present in the Eagles squad in the 2021 Arab Nations Cup in Qatar and the 2022 African Nations Cup in Cameroon.
Tunisia also included the Dutch defender Omar Al-Rakim, the player of Sparta Rotterdam, who is the brother of Karim Al-Rakik, the current player of Seville, the Spaniard, who had chosen to defend the colors of the Netherlands.
In addition to Raqib and Majbri, the Tunisian team included other dual nationals such as Hamza Rafia, Elias Al-Achouri, Anis Ben Slimane, Sebastien Tonkti, Moez Hassan and Rami Kaib.
In the 2022 African Nations Cup, the Carthage Eagles list included 10 players with dual citizenship, led by the national team’s top scorer and French Montpellier, Wahbi Khazri, who played for the French national team for under 19 years, Naim Al-Saliti, Saif Al-Khawi, Dylan Brun, Nader Al-Ghandari, Omar Al-Raqiq, Issa Al-Aidoni, Mohamed Dragher and Hannibal Al-Majbri and Yohan Tozgar.
Qadri sets his priorities
The Tunisian team seeks to continue to benefit from the migratory football feet, before the start of preparations for the World Cup in Qatar next November, according to a statement by the coach of the Carthage Eagles, Jalal Al-Qadri, to Al-Jazeera Net.
Al-Qadri told Al-Jazeera Net, “The standards adopted by the technical staff are based on the technical level and the ability to integrate. Every player has a Tunisian passport. The opportunity to play with the national team remains in front of him, but he must express his desire and readiness without conditions to defend his mother country.”
Regarding the addition of new players in the coming period, Al-Qadri replied, “The countdown to the World Cup has begun and we are only a few weeks away from making our choices, and this pushes us to maintain a homogeneous list, but if there is really someone who deserves to attend for the first time in the team, the team’s door remains open.”
It is noteworthy that the Football Association announced at the beginning of this year that it had succeeded in convincing 6 European-born players to wear the Tunisian national team shirt: Marc Lamti from Hannover 96, Germany, Elias Al-Damarji, French goalkeeper Rennes, Hussein Al-Ayari (Sheffield, England) and Amine Al-Charni (Paris FC). and Nabil Makni (Italian Chievo) and Saif Allah Al-Latif (Swiss Notreware).
Tunisia succeeded in recruiting dozens of dual-national football talents, but it failed in return to convince many players of Tunisian origin who chose to play for the country of residence and refused the Carthage Eagles, at a time when the fingers of accusation pointed to the football officials of the delay in attracting players and negligence in their inclusion.
Sami Khedira, who chose to carry the German national team shirt after a competition with Tunisia, is one of the most famous of these players, and Khedira, who played for Real Madrid and Juventus, contributed to the 2014 World Cup crowning Manshaft, and his brother Rani refused to play with Tunisia, just like Karim El Rakik who played for the Netherlands team and Nassim Ben Khalifa with Switzerland.
Prior to these, Sabri Lamouchi and Hatem Ben Arfa chose to defend the French national team, and in 2018 weaved Wissam Ben Yedder on their lines, which led to a wave of controversy about the officials’ negligence in attracting him, but the Football Association published at the time a report in which it revealed that all attempts to include Ben Yedder collided with unwillingness The player and his holding on to the hope of playing with France.
To put an end to his accusation of wasting opportunities to benefit from Tunisian talent, the Tunisian Football Association launched in 2020 a cell to follow up and attract immigrant players in Europe. .
The cell, supervised by Mohamed Salim Ben Othman, succeeded in convincing a number of professional players in Europe with dual citizenship to play with the Carthage Eagles.
Mohamed Salim Ben Othman believes that “the cell to attract Tunisian players in Europe whose mission lies in following up, selecting and evaluating talents holding Tunisian nationality, especially those who show their willingness to carry the national team shirt. We succeeded in including many players, whether in the youth teams or in the first team, after If they belong to European teams for the age groups.
In a clip published by the Football Association on his official page, Ben Othman said, “We rely primarily on the element of belonging. It is very important for the player to feel his belonging to Tunisia and his desire to defend its flag. The human aspect is very important, there are players that the family was behind convincing, and others They stood on the successful experiences of their colleagues, so they followed their example.”
He continued, “We seek in the Football Association to create a climate of trust between us and these players to motivate them more and convince them of the feasibility of playing for the national team and its impact on their career with their clubs. It is too early to talk about the results of this experience, but there are positive indicators that confirm that we are on the path to success.”
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