Pictured above, is the late equalizer by Radhi Jaidi which broke our hearts. We were very, very close to the victory but the lack of concentration in the last few seconds was enough to lose our advantage. It is true that we did not perform that well in the first half, but I think the Tunisians would not have scored if it was not for mistakes by our defense. I was afraid that Redha Takar might cause troubles to us, and he certainly did. A poor clearance by Takar made it easy to Ziad Jaziri, man of the match, to hit the net with a great, close shot. That was pretty much everything about the first half, as Tunisians did not make any other serious threats on our goal, while we looked as if we were lost except for some individual efforts by Nawaf and others.
Then comes the second half, and our team looked more focused. It was not too long before Mohammed Nour, who missed an easy chance in front of the Tunisian goalkeeper at the very first minutes after the break, crossed a good ball to Yasser Al Kahtani, who slided between the two central backs to score a great goal. The wise substitutions by Paqueta have given us more control over the ball in the middle, and the three substitutes: Malik Moa’th, Mohammed Ameen Haidar, and Sami Al Jaber, proved this when they created a quick counter attack starting from Ameen, who passed the ball to Mo’ath, and with one touch by the latter to Al Jaber, who made a nice sprint and scored his third goal in four World Cups, writing his name in the records of the history of the beautiful game.
With six minutes to go after the skipper’s goal, I thought we were definitely going to grant the three points, at least because the Carthage Eagles did not look good enough to comeback as they did not have too many real chances in the second half. Yet once again, mistakes of our own defense were fatal. Another poor clearance by Hussein Abdul-Ghani this time allows Ziad Jaziri to follow the ball inside our box. Jaziri lefts the ball to Jaidi who stands unmarked just a few yards from our goal, and there was the header which broke our hearts in the injury time.
Disappointed? Maybe, but overall I’m satisfied with the performance, especially in the second half. Once again, the Brazilian coach Paqueta has proved his managerial skills that we previously saw with Al Hilal, and he must be given credit for the work he has done. Next match is against Ukraine on June 19, and I have to say I’m optimistic, provided that we continue to play with the same spirit we have shown today. Ukraine is a tough side, and their 4-0 defeat on the hands of Spain should not make us underestimate the power of Shevchenko and his teammates. Finally, I want to thank the players for the good game today, and wish them all the best on what’s next.