Wahbi Khazri, manager of Tunisia

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The international Wahbi Khazri, globalist in 2018, is currently playing his fifth CAN in Cameroon. The Eagle of Carthage, who scored twice against Mauritania on January 16 on the second day, hopes once again to reach the last four as in 2019 in Egypt.

We still remember this very discreet boy who discovered the CAN and South Africa in 2013, near Rustenburg. At the time, Wahbi Khazri was still playing in Bastia. His native Corsica was his main playground, where he discovered the joys of football from the age of four.

In the country of Nelson Mandela, Wahbi Khazri had been established for the first time against Togo Adebayor during the third meeting of the group stage. «  I was very well received in the group. There is a great atmosphere and we laugh a lot. This is the most important thing for a successful African Cup of Nations “Wahbi Khazri explained to us during training, on the eve of facing the Sparrowhawks.

Capable of strokes of genius

Since then, the man who passed through Bordeaux has taken to the bottle. He got better. If he had ups and downs, Khazri never balked at the task, even when the critics were raining, or when he was struggling to exist, as in the English championship with Sunderland (2016-2018). He had failed to save the Black Cats from relegation to the Second Division and had returned to France from the side of Rennes.

Which doesn’t prevent Wahbi Khazri from often being capable of strokes of genius. No one has forgotten his sublime goal last October in Metz with Saint-Étienne. A 68-meter lob whose images have toured the planet. The man who excels in set pieces had scored his first goal in selection on a free kick against Sierra Leone in March 2013 during the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

In Cameroon, he scored twice against the Mauritania Sunday January 16, and revived the Eagles after a failed entry into the competition against mali. Elected man of the match, Khazri admitted to not being a  » doubting player « .  » I have qualities. I felt that the group was behind me. Then I know football. I know people, how they like to be. That is to say, as soon as things go less well, criticize, lower the players to the lowest level. Me, they can do what they want to me, they won’t reach me “, he assures.

Wahbi Khazri is one of the players who never run away from questions or their responsibility. And like a steward, he no longer panics in the event of strong turbulence. The air pockets, he knows. The Tunisians will have to confirm against Gambia on Thursday January 20 to ensure direct qualification.

The love of the African continent

«  Tunisia is my father’s country, where I went every summer on vacation. These are my roots. When I see the enthusiasm during our matches, it’s even more motivating. We are all going through a difficult time with Covid and in some African countries the only happiness you can have is football. If we can put that aside and bring some good times to the country, that’s even better. That’s why we play football, to make people happy “Says the Eagle of Carthage in an interview with AFP.

While adding: The CAN is trips between unknown cities in Europe. We cross villages where we see that people do not necessarily have much, but are very happy to see us « . Wahbi Khazri, globalist in 2018, had fulfilled another childhood dream: to score in the World Cup (against Belgium and Panama). The Eagles had left Russia and the World Cup on this victory against the Panamanians (2-1), the first in the World Cup since 1978.

During the last edition in Egypt, Tunisia had reached the last four, beaten by Senegal in the semi-finals. «  It would be nice now to qualify for the final, but it won’t be easy, because there are great teams in Africa, where the level is getting higher and higher. “, he admits.

“Well educated and altruistic”

Wahbi Khazri would certainly like to erase from his memory the few bad memories of his African campaigns, like this quarter-final lost in Equatorial Guinea against the host country. Tunisia led 1-0 and headed for a logical qualification in the semi-finals of the CAN when, on an imaginary fault, the Mauritanian referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn, had awarded a penalty to the organizing country. Javier Balboa equalized. A few minutes later, in full overtime, Balboa had scored on a masterful free kick, following a new, unobvious foul. Rajindraparsad Seechurn had been suspended for six months by CAF. Wahbi Khazri, he, in a fit of anger, had promised never to set foot in the CAN again. Luckily for African football, he never delivered on his promise!

 » He is an endearing, well-educated and altruistic boy with whom I have only good memories. He is not a charismatic leader, but a natural game leader. He is one of the players who, during a tense match, is able on an inspiration to unlock him. He brings a dynamic to the team “, recently declared in the columns of the Progress Frédéric Hantz who trained him in Corsica. For his fifth participation in the African Cup of Nations, Wahbi Khazri still has fever in his blood and still wants to take the Eagles to the roof of the continent.

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