Tunisia will be making its second straight appearance in the tournament at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. This will be their fifth total appearance, and they have been drawn into Group D alongside reigning champions France, Denmark, and Australia. The Tunisia national team has never made it out of the group stage, and this year will undoubtedly be a challenge, but not impossible. These are five reasons Tunisia can make it to their first Round of 16 in the 2022 World Cup.
1. Rising through the FIFA Rankings
Tunisia Football Club is currently the 30th ranked team by FIFA as of June 2022, making them the third lowest-ranked team in Group D. Despite that, they have been gradually moving up the rankings, starting the year at 36. For the 2018 World Cup, they had made it to 14, but since then have been slowly dropping, sitting around the late 20s and early 30s. The team had a disappointing performance in the African Cup of Nations, which led to the manager being fired and a stepper drop in the rankings. However, the team has started to regain its form at the perfect time before the World Cup.
2. Solid Qualifications
In qualifications, Tunisia put on a quality display in the group stage and in the elimination round. In the group stage, they went 4W-1D-1L for 13 points, ending with 11 goals and allowing two in six games. In the elimination round, they had to face off against Mali, who did not lose a game or even allow a goal throughout all six group stage games. In the first leg of the elimination round, Tunisia won 1-0 off of an own-goal by Mali. In the second leg, the two teams drew 0-0, sending Tunisia to the World Cup.
3. Balanced Team With Some Talent
Two players from Tunisia’s all-time scoring leaders will likely make the roster for the 2022 World Cup. Wahbi Khazri is one of the biggest names, playing for Saint-Etienne, which was in Ligue 1 last season but has been relegated to Ligue 2 for next season. Khazri is second in all-time scoring with 24 goals in 69 caps. Youssef Msakni, with 15 national team goals in his 83 caps, places him in eighth on Tunisia’s all-time goal leaders. Hannibal Mejbr is 19 years old, and is under contract with Manchester United. Even though he is inexperienced, he can get his shot to shine in the World Cup, as he has the skill to be noticed by one of the biggest clubs in the world.
4. New Manger
Mondher Kebaier was the manager of the Tunisia national team from 2019-2022, with a solid record of 19W-4D-8L. However, the 2021 African Cup of Nations barely made it out of the group stages and lost in the quarterfinal. He was fired shortly after, with his assistant Jalel Kadri taking over. Kadri is off to a hot start, though he has a similar style, sometimes just having a new voice can change things, having not lost yet in his six games from the sideline. He has been a big part of getting the team to the World Cup.
5. Open Second Spot
France is the clear favorite to win the group and make it out, as they are one of the best teams in the world. However, the second spot is up for grabs. Though they are ranked 10th by FIFA, Denmark is not as dominant, and Tunisia can surprise them. Australia made it to the World Cup from a playoff spot and is the lowest-ranked team in the group. If Tunisia can find a way to beat Denmark and Australia, they may make it to the Round of 16 for the first time in their World Cup history.