France-born Wahbi Kharzi revels in his role of representing Tunisia, even if knockouts qualification eventually eludes

As one of many six France-born gamers within the Tunisian workforce which began in opposition to defending champions France on the Training Metropolis stadium on Wednesday night, 31-year-old Tunisian captain Wahbi Khazri’s solo run to attain the winner within the 58th minute in opposition to the defending champions fell in need of serving to the previous French colony nation to advance into the knock-outs.

The midfielder, who plies his commerce in Ligue 1, France’s top-tier league, was enjoying in his second World Cup and having scored two targets and two assists within the 2018 version, was anticipated to hold the small nation to knockouts this time. A 1-0 Australian win over Denmark meant that Tunisia ended their World Cup marketing campaign however it was Khazri’s purpose which was the speak of the soccer world on Wednesday night.

“We’re completely happy, we performed a very good recreation with the ball and have been supportive in protection, a very good workforce recreation. However there may be the frustration of not being labeled, we didn’t do what was obligatory within the first two video games. We’re completely happy to point out a very good face to the Tunisian folks, they are going to be pleased with us for the victory in opposition to a workforce just like the one we had in entrance of us. We’re completely happy to beat the champion, we’re pleased with ourselves, however with a bitter style, it could have been higher if we had certified,” mentioned Khazri publish the match.

Born in Corsica along with his father from Tunisia and mom being a French, Khazri performed for France’s U-21 workforce earlier than he determined to play for Tunisia after getting a call-up from the-then Tunisia coach Sami Trabelsi. The midfielder performed within the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations for the Carthage Eagles. “I attempt to characterize Tunisia in France each weekend by performing nicely. Afterwards, I even have the possibility to characterize Corsica, as a result of I used to be born there. I’ve a whole lot of flags on my shoulders, it’s good. When folks speak about me, I like to listen to, “Wahbi, the Corsican, Wahbi the Tunisian, I discover it nice to see its origins being put ahead. I’m 100% Tunisian, 100% French and 100% Corsican. I’ve no embarrassment about that,” Khazri had instructed BBC Africa earlier this 12 months.

Second highest purpose scorer

The 31-year-old, who’s now Tunisia’s second highest purpose scorer with 25 targets since making his debut in 2013, began his skilled profession with French membership Bastia FC. The midfielder performed in additional than 150 matches for the membership from 2009 to 2014 earlier than shifting to Bordeaux in 2014.

Teammates congratulate Wahbi Khazri affter he scored his aspect’s opening purpose in opposition to France. (AP Picture)

Khazri then performed for English Premier League aspect Sunderland and scored his first Premier league purpose in opposition to Manchester United in 2016 earlier than he returned once more to France to play for Stade Rennais FC. The Tunisian then performed for French Membership AS St Etienne for 4 years earlier than becoming a member of Montpellier final 12 months and scored 27 targets in 114 matches for the membership.Previous to the World Cup, Khazri spoke about how everybody in Tunisia is trying to the workforce’s conflict in opposition to France. “Being born in France and enjoying for Tunisia is particular – the 2 international locations are very shut and will probably be an thrilling time. Taking part in within the French League as nicely, we all know lots of people are going to be watching and we’re going to play in opposition to a few of the finest on the earth, like Benzema, Mbappe and Griezmann. Towards France, there will probably be no break up loyalties at residence as a result of everybody will probably be 100% Tunisian on my aspect. That is what I needed for within the draw. I hope it goes nicely for us,” Khazri had instructed BBC.

Tunisia’s Wahbi Khazri celebrates scoring his aspect’s opening purpose in opposition to France throughout a World Cup group D soccer match on the Training Metropolis Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022. (AP Picture/Martin Meissner)

Aside from enjoying in 5 Africa Cup of Nations, Khazri additionally performed within the 2018 World Cup in Russia the place he scored a purpose every in opposition to Belgium and Panama with the win in opposition to Panama being the North African aspect’s second win in World Cup historical past. Their first win got here within the 1978 World Cup – 3-1 in opposition to Mexico.

Khazri is amongst a choose group of Tunisian footballers who’ve performed in two World Cups. He had termed enjoying in his second World Cup as a particular feeling. “Having already performed in a World Cup is a supply of pleasure, so enjoying a second one… As well as, we’re in the identical group as France, it’s magnificent. For all these years, I’ve had a whole lot of enjoyable and I’m proud of what I’m doing with the choice. There may be a lot pleasure round it. Tunisia is a rustic of soccer. For the reason that revolution in 2011, we really feel that individuals have to expertise moments of pleasure, and soccer permits them to flee. Figuring out that we’re the guarantors of this, you will need to give every part,” Khazri had instructed Ligue 1 web site.

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