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World Cup: Tunisia dare the Danes, snatch a point

We played too nervously and too slow, and we didn’t find ourselves in the first half, says Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand
Kasper Hjulmand.
Kasper Hjulmand.
File photo

Reuters   |   Al Rayyan   |   Published 23.11.22, 04:04 AM

Substitute Andreas Cornelius hit the post and Denmark had a late penalty appeal turned down, while Tunisia wasted two clear chances in a 0-0 draw in their World Cup Group D opener at Education City Stadium on Tuesday.

Tunisia were roared on by their sizeable following in the 42,925 crowd, whose deafening whistles and roars gave energy to their side and helped secure what had seemed an unlikely point before kick-off, despite the fact they are unbeaten in nine of their last 10 internationals.

Denmark  thought they should have had a penalty in stoppage time for handball that was checked at the VAR screen by referee Cesar Arturo Ramos, but he instead gave a free-kick to Tunisia.

Usually, when a referee moves to the monitor to review a decision, he changes his mind, but Mexican Ramos stuck to his guns at a crucial moment in the game.

“We played too nervously and too slow, and we didn’t find ourselves in the first half,” Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand said.

“There was a period when we got into it but we were never calm and comfortable, that came later in the game. There’s no doubt we played under par.

“It (qualifying from the group) has become complicated but it’s not over. We are underway with the tournament, but our heads would have been a little higher with a better result.”

Tunisia played with a tempo they will find hard to maintain through the group stages, but were good value for their point and showed a resilience that was pleasing for coach Jalel Kadri.

“The fan factor was very positive for us,” he said. “It mentally gave us a great lift and we are looking forward to seeing the fans continue to do that for us.

“It really helped us in the game, but tactically and physically we did well too.”

Denmark would have hoped to create more chances, but their best came late in the second half when Cornelius only had to nod the ball over the line at the back post, but instead flicked it onto the woodwork.

Tunisia, who this week had spoken of their pride at qualifying for World Cup in an Arab country, were fired up from the first whistle, celebrating each tackle like a goal, and had two excellent chances to open the scoring.

The first fell to  Denmark-based Issam Jebali when he found himself one-on-one with Kasper Schmeichel, but could not beat the Danish goalkeeper, who made an excellent, instinctive save.

The second saw AissaLaidouni race clear from his own half, but as he approached the Denmark penalty area, he hesitated and opted for a pass that was not on rather than advancing another 10 yards and having an effort on goal.

In the context of the match, both might look at it as two points dropped, but Tunisia will certainly be the happier given the low level of expectation placed on them — from outside their camp at least —going into the tournament.

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