After their successful Spain-based training camp, during which they beat Basque Country 2-0 and held Catalunya to a goalless draw, Tunisia are in Dubai for the first of two scheduled friendlies against Sudan and Cote D’Ivoire.
Sami Trabelsi has called up a 26-man roster and will use the next two matches to decide which three players he will leave out of his final squad list which must be communicated to the Confederation of Africa Football (Caf) by January 11.
Trabelsi has continued his strategy of relying on a core group of players from African champions Esperance. With the exception of an out of form Walid Hichri, all their players look sure to take part.
On the other hand, the upcoming week will be an especially important one for Tunisia’s all-time leading scorer, Issam Jemaa, who struggled mightily during the trip to Spain due to a lack of playing time at club level. On the health front, Ousamma Darragi may be exempted from this match since he’s missed two training sessions with flu.
Meanwhile, Sudan are fresh off a training camp of their own. Mohammed Abdalla Mazda’s men beat Qatari club side Al-Jaish 2-1 in Doha before being unable to put any goals past second division side Musaimir. The Falcons’ coach has been fielding various lineups in order to come closer to cutting his 29-man roster down to 23 players.
In terms of player news, the big story so far is that team captain Haitham Mustafa is back in the squad after reconciling his differences with the coach, who excluded him from participation at the LG Cup in Morocco for making derisive comments to the press.
The Sudanese FA has put in some solid preparation in order to have their side be as prepared as possible for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon). After facing Tunisia, Sudan face Senegal in Dakar on January 12, and then co-hosts Gabon on January 16 in Bitam.
- The last time these two teams faced each other in a friendly was on June 20, 2010, when the Carthage Eagles downed the Sudanese by a whopping 6-2 score-line in Omdurman.
- There has never been a draw between the two sides in the seven times they’ve faced each other.
- Sudan’s most famous victory over Tunisia was a 3-2 home triumph when the Falcons finished ahead of them in the preliminary stages of 2008 Afcon qualifying.
- The all-time record between the two sides favours the north Africans: Tunisia has won five times while the Sudanese have two victories to their name.
- Coach Mazda included two Nigerian-born players who ply their trade in Sudan (Kelechi Osunwa and Kayode Sherif Sule) in his provisional squad for the continental showpiece.