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He chose the Tunisian jersey rather than the tunic of his native Denmark: at 21, Anis Ben Slimane will start his first World Cup against the country where he grew up, and intends to prove himself, without fear or regret.
“It’s very weird. But to be honest I told my friends, everyone around me that if we went to the World Cup, we would have Denmark. in the draw, he confides to AFP in the corridors of his club in Brondby, in the suburbs of Copenhagen. The midfielder describes himself as a Danish supporter “every day, except this one”.
Born in the Danish capital to parents from Sousse, in southern Tunisia, the binational was poached by the Tunisian Football Federation a little over two years ago. “I had played with the Under-19s for Denmark, that went well and I was very happy, then all of a sudden I received a phone call from the Tunisian national team. », remembers the forecastle of 1.88 m. He has yet to make his professional debut. “It was surprising that they wanted me”he said.
placed in front of a “very difficult choice”Anis Ben Slimane opts for the Carthage Eagles jersey. “I want to honor my Tunisian roots. My parents’ biggest dream is to see me play for the Tunisian national team since I was littlehe said. I want to make them proud. »
Former Tunisia assistant coach Adel Sellimi, who was in charge when the attacking midfielder was first called up in October 2020, explains the decision by “His great abilities despite his young age”. “He also has the advantage of being able to play in several positions in the middle and also on the sides. And he’s comfortable with both feet.”raises the technician who greets his “good reading of the game”.
“We are very disciplined”
For this World Cup in Qatar, Tunisia, 30e in the FIFA rankings, inherited a formidable group with France and Denmark, both in the world top 10, and Australia. “The group is pretty tough. And it’s going to be difficult. But I think every player will do their best to get past the group stage.”analyzes Anis Ben Slimane.
Tunisia have never reached the knockout stage and a qualification “would be pretty cool”, he adds. Confident in the Tunisian collective, the young player, behind the only goal of his selection against Brazil during a friendly defeat at the end of September (5-1), wants to believe it.
“We don’t have the big stars, but we are a very good group and we are very disciplined (…)very good at defending our goal”, he summarizes. And France does not scare him. “We have the skills in our team and if we are having a good day and France maybe having a bad day, you never know”he smiles. “I don’t see them as good as a collective but more individually. And that can be something good for us”advances the midfielder.
According to him, the match against Denmark will be the most complicated. “At the moment, Denmark is better than France (…) with a very, very good squad and a lot of good players.”judges this specialist in free kicks. “Personally, it’s going to be a tougher game than France, but also because I have feelings for Denmark. »
Which does not prevent him from believing in it. “I have never been afraid of a match and I will never be afraid of it. Whether it’s Brazil, France, whoever, it’s going to be really, really a great challenge and a great opportunity to show off on the international scene.”he argues.
For that, we only have to talk about football. Mouth sewn on the choice of Qatar as host country, the construction sites which cost the lives of many foreign workers – “a sad story, obviously” – nor the ban on homosexuality in the emirate. “I don’t want to mix politics and football”he concludes.