Tunisia and Australia will hope to take a big step closer to clinching qualification for the Round of 16 when they clash at the Al Janoub Stadium on Saturday.

The FIFA World Cup 2022 is getting into overdrive, with the second round of group-stage fixtures beginning on Friday. The battle for the second spot in Group D is evenly poised after Matchday 1, and it will take another turn when Tunisia and Australia face off at the Al Janoub Stadium on Saturday.

Tunisia and Australia were supposed to be the whipping boys in Group D of the FIFA World Cup 2022. But the Eagles of Carthage did well to hold Denmark to a goalless draw in their opening fixture. However, the Socceroos did not have any such fortune as France handed them a 4-1 trounce earlier this week.

Tunisia’s 0-0 stalemate against Denmark means Jalel Kadri’s men have lost just one of their last ten games since their ouster from the Africa Cup of Nations. Meanwhile, Australia’s heavy defeat ended a five-match unbeaten run for Graham Arnold and his charges.

Tunisia clinched a 2-0 win over Australia the last time these teams locked horns in the 2005 Confederations Cup. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the FIFA World Cup 2022 encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.

Team News & Tactics


Jalel Kadri does not have any new injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of the game against Australia. So the Tunisia head coach should retain most of the players who made the starting eleven versus Denmark.

Wahbi Khazri was a surprise omission for Tunisia, and the experienced attacker should return to the starting eleven against Australia. The 31-year-old will likely replace Anis Ben Slimane, joining Youssef Msakni and Issam Jebali in the final third.

Msakni was top-notch against Denmark and deserved more from the game. And the Tunisia captain will again be the go-to player to make things happen in the final third versus Australia. The offensive trio will bank on the midfield duo of Ellyes Skhiri and Aissa Laidouni to hold the fort in the middle of the park.

Skhiri and Laidouni need to keep Riley McGree quiet for Tunisia to wreak havoc in the final third. Mohamed Drager and Ali Abdi will accompany the central midfield duo in the second line of Tunisia’s press.

The two wing-backs will provide the width in the final third while dropping deep to form a back five in the defensive phases. Dylan Bronn, Yassine Meriah, and Montassar Talbi will look to keep things tight at the back. Finally, Aymen Dahmen will take his place between the sticks.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Dahmen; Bronn, Meriah, Talbi; Drager, Skhiri, Laidouni, Abdi; Khazri, Msakni; Jebali


Like his counterpart in the Tunisian dugout, Graham Arnold has a full-strength squad at his disposal ahead of the trip to the Al Janoub Stadium. And unlike Jalel Kadri, the Australia head coach will unlikely make any shuffles despite the defeat to France.

Mathew Ryan will hope for better protection from the defenders in front of him. The Australia captain will also need to have a better command of his box against Tunisia. As for the backline, Harry Souttar and Kye Rowles will form the central defensive partnership. Nathaniel Atkinson and Aziz Behich should be the two full-backs.

Atkinson and Behich could not express themselves much against France but might have more freedom versus Tunisia. But they will primarily look to cut down the passing lanes for the Eagles of Carthage on Saturday.

Aaron Mooy will hold the fort in the middle of the park, looking to keep a lid on Youssef Msakni. Mooy will also be responsible for transitioning from defence to attack efficiently. And the 32-year-old will need to set a quick tempo when pushing Australia forward against Tunisia.

Jackson Irvine and Riley McGree will look to provide the creative impetus from the central areas. But the onus will be on Mathew Leckie and Craig Goodwin, who scored against France, to be clinical in the final third to earn Australia a win. Finally, Mitchell Duke should spearhead the offensive unit on Saturday.

Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Ryan; Atkinson, Souttar, Rowles, Behich; Mooy; Leckie, Irvine, McGree, Goodwin; Duke

Key Stats

  • Saturday’s match-up will be just the third meeting between Tunisia and Australia in all competitions/ Australia won 3-0 in a friendly in October 1997 before Tunisia clinched a 2-0 victory at the 2005 Confederations Cup.
  • Australia will face African opposition at the FIFA World Cup for just the second time (18th match overall). They drew 1-1 with Ghana in 2010 in their first such meeting.
  • Against Denmark last time out, Tunisia kept just a clean sheet for the second time in 16 World Cup games. Both their shutouts have been in goalless draws (the other coming versus Germany in 1978). The Eagles of Carthage have kept a clean sheet in nine of their last ten matches.
  • Australia have lost six of their last seven World Cup matches (D1), conceding 18 goals in this spell. They could lose both of their first two games of a World Cup campaign for a third time, having also done so in 1974 and 2014.
  • Australia have kept just one clean sheet in 17 World Cup matches; no side to play 10+ games at the tournament has a lower such ratio (6%, level with Saudi Arabia).

Player to Watch

Wahbi Khazri

Embed from Getty Images

Khazri would have been disappointed about missing out altogether against Denmark. But he will be in line to start against Australia on Saturday. And the 31-year-old will be eager to set the record straight with a game-changing display. Expect Khazri to rise to the occasion this weekend.


Tunisia 1-0 Australia

Tunisia and Australia should be matched evenly in the middle of the park, with both teams having game-changers in the midfield units. So the attack and defence will make the difference in the match on Saturday. And that is where Tunisia should hold the advantage in this fixture.

The Eagles of Carthage have kept a clean sheet in nine of their last ten games, with the only exception coming in the heavy defeat to Brazil. And with Youssef Msakni showing promising signs against Denmark, Tunisia’s captain will likely make the difference. The Hard Tackle predicts a 1-0 win for Jalel Kadri’s men, thus possibly sending Australia packing.

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