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Tunisia coach demands changes after World Cup defeat


Moscow (AFP) – Tunisia coach Nabil Maaloul has called for far-reaching changes in his country so they can compete at future World Cups after their “ridiculous” 5-2 hammering by Belgium at Russia 2018.

Belgium’s Premier League stars Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku both scored twice in Moscow before Michy Batshuayi added a fifth in the rout that left Tunisia bottom of Group G with two defeats.

“As expected, it was a very difficult match. Ever since we were drawn in this group we knew Belgium were going to be a tough opponent,” said the 56-year-old Maaloul.

“We would like to apologise to the Tunisian fans who were numerous in the stadium today. However, we did our best and we will try to improve our performance in the future.”

The Red Devils are on the verge of the last 16 while Tunisia have only a mathematical chance of progressing. Dylan Bronn and captain Wahbi Khazri scored their consolation goals at the Spartak Stadium.

Maaloul outlined the changes needed in Tunisian football in order for the side to compete at future finals.

“We must change our entire lifestyle in our country because it isn’t in line with high-level football,” he said.

“I am not giving up, but we need to wait at least two generations to get the necessary fitness and strength. I think we are far, far from the needed level.

“We need players who are professional from the age of 13 or 14 to improve the standard.”

After losing their opening World Cup match to England, Tunisia had needed to win in Moscow to keep their dream alive, which invited Belgium’s star-studded forwards to attack.

“We were a bit ridiculous from the way we played and the score of 5-2, for me, is a bit on the low side,” admitted the Tunisia boss.

“We did OK in possession but Belgium have players who can make the difference at any moment, like Hazard or Lukaku.”

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