Friday 22 June 2018, 07:22

Ben Youssef: Let’s strike the right balance against Belgium

  • Fakhreddine Ben Youssef reveals the game-plan for Belgium

  • Tunisia will need to fight for every ball to get the three points

  • Fans’ support will be crucial right through to the final whistle

By Tarek Kadri with Tunisia

Fakhreddine Ben Youssef was the standout player for Tunisia against England and one of the few to strike the right balance between defence and attack. Nominally up front but able to track back to win the ball on regular occasions, he also earned the north Africans a vital penalty. Were it not for Harry Kane’s injury-time header, that performance may well have been enough to earn his team a point.

Against England, the Eagles of Carthage were wide open in the first half, but tightened up at the back after the break without creating any real chances of their own. When asked which Tunisia would likely turn up against Belgium, Ben Youssef said: "We need to strike a balance between defence and attack. The coach has a plan for us to be ready on the day, and we need to get forward when we need to and defend when we have to if we want to get a result."

Ben Youssef is the first to admit that the squad is lacking in experience, with each one of them playing in his first FIFA World Cup™. He does however think that things could change in the second match, saying: "We got over our fears in the first game and each of us now has an idea of the kind of atmosphere there is at a World Cup. That will be a positive factor against Belgium."

Gunning for victory Ben Youssef believes that Tunisia have no choice but to go for the win against Belgium if they are to qualify for the knock-out stages of the tournament. "We absolutely have to take the three points and we are going to give it our all, he said. “We are going to follow the coach’s advice and go for it."

Unlike for their opening game, the north African side will be able to count on the support of the large Tunisian community in Moscow, and Fakhreddine believes that their presence will be a positive factor. "There will be more of our fans than in Volgograd," he said , "and we hope that they will cheer us on from beginning to end so that we can get the result we need against Belgium."

Les Diables Rouges have a fearsome reputation, but Ben Youssef believes that he and his team-mates should not go into the match mentally on the back foot. "They’ve got some excellent guys who are all used to playing alongside one another, he said. "But for me England are the strongest team, so we’ll be going all out for the three points in this second match."