Friday 10 December 2021, 22:45

Mejbri: I hope I can reach Pogba's level

  • Hannibal Mejbri has dazzled with Tunisia at the Arab Cup

  • A pacy dribbler, the midfielder is being compared to Paul Pogba

  • Teenager discusses team’s chances and ambitions with Manchester United

Tunisia continued their successful run at the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021™ by defeating Oman and securing a spot in the semi-finals. Tomorrow’s second quarter-final – between Egypt and Jordan – will determine who progresses to face the on-song Carthage Eagles.

That said, Tunisia were certainly made to sweat against Oman. After tournament’s top-scorer Seifeddine Jaziri gave the North Africans the lead, Al Ahmar equalized with a powerful strike from Arshad Al Alawi in the 66th minute, only for captain Youssef Msakni to net the winner for Tunisia three minutes later.

After the match, caught up with Tunisia’s teenage sensation Hannibal Mejbri. The midfielder, who has started all his country’s games at Qatar 2021, praised the resilience the Carthage Eagles had shown in the game, especially after conceding.

"There was no room for doubt – we had to keep believing we could win. We reacted quickly and our captain Msakni took responsibility by scoring the second goal that gave us the victory. We have to thank him and all the players for their hard work,” he explained.

Mouth-watering semi-final

Having secured a spot in last four, Tunisia’s players can briefly relax and watch today’s last-eight showdown between Egypt and Jordan, the winner of which will face them in the semi-final.

Speaking about his team’s prospective opponent, Mejbri said: "We don’t know who we’ll face yet and have to wait for the conclusion of that game. However, we’ll watch it to assess their respective strengths."

"The best side will win, but, as Tunisia, we always want to face the top teams to be among the best ourselves," he added.

Asked about his side’s principal objective goal for this tournament, he said: "Our goal is to win the title. We didn’t come here to see the sights, but for the trophy. We have to keep up the good work all the way to the final."

In Pogba's footsteps

Mejbri has been one of Tunisia’s key players at this tournament. The 18-year-old is currently plying his trade with Manchester United, where he came through the youth ranks. Indeed, he has already made his debut with the Red Devils first team, coming on for Juan Mata in the 82nd minute of their 2-1 win over Wolves in their final game last season.

Widely compared to a young Paul Pogba, some have even suggested he could be the French star’s successor at Old Trafford. "I train with Pogba often and I respect him a lot. He’s a fantastic player and one of the best midfielders in the world. I learn from him every day. I hope I can reach his level and why not become even better in the future,” the youngster said.

Asked if he was dreaming of coming back to Qatar next year for the FIFA World Cup™, Mejbri said: “It’s a real ambition we all want to fulfil. Everyone is dreaming of returning to Qatar in a year’s time to play at the World Cup, and we’ll continue to work hard towards that. For my part, I’ll do all I can to be included in the squad and even start games with Tunisia at Qatar 2022. Why not?”

Before signing off, Mejbri wanted to send a message to the national team fans. "We’d like to thank all the Tunisian fans who have attended our games here games and stood behind us. They’ve almost filled the stands and supported us in good and bad,” he concluded.