Msakni Motivated to Lead Tunisia to 2022 World Cup

Published July 26th, 2020 - 02:09 GMT
The 29-year-old has spoken of his target to help the Carthage Eagles secure a place in the next edition of the global tournament (Photo: AFP)
The 29-year-old has spoken of his target to help the Carthage Eagles secure a place in the next edition of the global tournament (Photo: AFP)

Youssef Msakni has stated he is motivated to again lead Tunisia to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after he inspired the North African country to the last edition.

The29-year-old propelled Carthage Eagles to the 2018 global tournament, scoring a hat-trick in their away victory over Guinea during the qualifiers which sealed their return to the competition since 2006.

The forward was, however, ruled out of the global showpiece in Russia due to a serious knee injury he suffered seven weeks prior to the commencement of the competition.

Msakni, who plies his trade with Qatari side Al Duhail, explained how playing in the new stadia that will host the 2022 World Cup has served as inspiration for him to help Tunisia qualify for the tournament.

"It is indeed hard to miss the chance to play at a World Cup and wear your country’s colours when you're only a few weeks away from the world's premier sports event," Msakni told Fifa website.

"This could badly affect any player lacking the strength of character, but thanks to God I accepted the situation and told myself I’d make it next time.

"Yes. Soon I'll complete seven years in Qatar. I came here in 2013, three years after the country won the rights to host the 2022 edition. Since then, the construction of stadiums has never stopped. That has been great.

"But when we started playing on pitches that will host World Cup games, I became even more motivated to lead my national team to qualify and compete here.

"It's really exciting to experience playing on these pitches, which are luxurious and on par with the world's best arenas. They create the ideal environment for players to perform at their best. I'll convey these feelings to my team-mates to motivate them to battle fiercely in the African qualifiers and reach Qatar 2022."

The Carthage Eagles are in Group B of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers along with Zambia, Mauritania and Equatorial Guinea.

Despite being the highest-ranked side in the group, Msakni feels his side’s opponents will not be a pushover.

"African football has changed over the past five years. They're no longer technical differences between the majority of teams,” he added.

“We know we must respect everyone and approach each game as if it was a final. We need to accumulate points and qualify. There's no room for mistakes this time."

Tunisia finished fourth in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt after losing to Nigeria in the semi-final, Msakni revealed his countrymen were not pleased with their performances in the continental tournament but revealed his side has learned lessons from their shortcomings.

"Yes, we learned some lessons from that experience. We as players learn from both wins and losses. There's always an opportunity to learn, focus on positive things, and avoid the negative ones," he said.

"The Tunisian fans weren't happy with our performance, but we qualified for the knockout phase, where we showed the ability to compete and win at the kind of tournament where small details can make all the difference.

“Again, we came close to making the final, which we’d managed in 2004, when we won but luck was not on our side when we missed a penalty and the game went into extra time.

"The lesson here is there will be some periods in these kinds of tournaments [African finals or international qualifiers] that require patience and good preparation to be able to win.

“Now we have a chance to enhance our displays and perform strongly to reach the final round of the qualifiers and secure our ticket to Qatar."

Msakni has made 62 appearances for Tunisia and scored 11 goals since he made his debut against the Gambia in January 2010.

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