Belgium demolish Tunisia dashing Arab World Cup hopes

Belgium demolish Tunisia dashing Arab World Cup hopes
With three Arab teams in Russia already eliminated from the 2018 World Cup, the last Arab representative Tunisia tried to save some of the respect lost for Arab football.
4 min read
23 Jun, 2018
Belgium beat Tunisia 5-2 in Moscow. [Getty]

After three of the Arab teams in Russia were eliminated from the 2018 World Cup, the last Arab representative, North African Tunisia, tried to save some of the respect lost for Arab football.

The match kicked off at a high pace, and after only four minutes the Red Devils won a penalty after Hazard was fouled inside of the box. He converted it into 1-0 to Belgium, and the game hadn't even started yet.

The weather was very hot in the stadium, but it did not stop Belgium from simply smashing the Tunisians.

Romulo Lukaku
 then scored from a difficult angle and made it 2-0 to Belgium. Exactly when it began to look like a massive defeat, the Tunisians woke up.

Wahbi Khazri lobbed a perfect dangerous free kick from the left side into the box and Dylan Bronn, the defender who made only one appearance in the national team before the World Cup, and who until a few years back was working as a Sushi delivery guy, headed the ball in.

Tunisia appeared to be everything that Arab football fans expected from their national team. Tough, combative, no ego, and a team that plays like a true underdog.

Due to the high temperature in Moscow, the match was stopped a few times for the players to drink water. Slowly, Belgium got tired.

The Tunisians did not hold back and kept attacking the Belgians with their limited but effective arsenal. The Carthage Eagles produced the best attacking half of an Arab side in this World Cup.

But just when it seemed that Tunisia would go to the dressing room with a positive boost, Lukaku nailed another one. 3-1 Belgium at halftime.

The second half opened at the same pace at which the first one ended. Belgium attacked, snatched the ball and Hazard ran away from the Tunisian goalie, Farouk Ben Moustafa, to score his second and make it 4-1.

The Tunisians gave up defence completely and attacked freely and creatively, trying to get the most chances they could. For a moment there, it looked like they were just enjoying playing that game.

It was touching to watch, while understanding that this is what the Arab teams could offer to this kind of a tournament.

Simply a bit of passion, a dream and the pleasure of actually playing the game.

Back on the field, the game was still running. Young Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi entered the match and immediately had an impact. Michy is this type of player who provides the fans with a true show. 

He caused Ben Moustafa to produce one of the tournament's great saves until eventually he found the net at the 91st minute.

The Tunisians, however, did not want to finish the game with a bad taste, and kept pressing and playing until they got their chance. Khazri scored a nice volley from within the box and called the match result 5-2 to Belgium.

That's it. So far, as the final Group Stage match day is about to begin, Arab teams have managed to score four goals in the 2018 World Cup but no wins or draws.

Saudi Arabia and Morocco have not scored yet, Egypt scored one and Tunisia got three goals and two losses in the first two games.

The Tunisians still have a theoretical chance to make it to the next stage if Panama beat England, which is definitely unlikely to happen.

Meanwhile, after the Arab derby between Saudi Arabia and Egypt becomes irrelevant for the fight for a knockout spot in Group A, the Middle East fans could turn their eyes to one representative that still has a serious chance of making it to the next round - Iran.

The Asian Cheetahs and their coach Carlos Quieroz will play Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal in Saransk, in a direct battle over a spot in the round of 16. If you are a true Middle Eastern football follower, then the mere thought of this will give you goosebumps.

Uri Levy runs the popular football blog BabaGol, which covers football and politics focusing on the Middle East. Follow him on Twitter, and read his blog here