Tunisia swept aside Mauritania 5-1 to open their FIFA Arab Cup campaign in style
Man of the Match Seifeddine Jaziri scored a brace, one with a backheel
The forward discusses the game and his side’s Arab Cup ambitions
Football has plenty of signature moves that are synonymous with players. The way Zidane pirouetted with the ball is now known as the Zidane roulette. The Panenka penalty is named after Antonin Panenka. Back-heeled goals are associated with the former Algeria star Rabah Madjer, who scored a magnificent goal this way for Porto against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League final. Now, every time a player scores a back-heel, Madjer’s name comes up.
Those fortunate enough to watch Tunisia’s opening game against Mauritania were also treated to the best of the beautiful game. The match produced six goals, five for the Eagles of Carthage and one for their opponents. Among that quintet was a back-heeled effort by Seifeddine Jaziri, who improvised inside the six-yard area box to convert Madjer style.
Speaking to FIFA.com after the game, Jaziri commented on his beautiful strike, saying: "I knew that Fakhreddine Ben Youssef would put the ball in that area. I followed up on the rebound that came off the keeper and a back-heel was the only possible way to score.”
Tunisia impressed everyone with their strong offence against Mauritania. They registered five goals but could have won by an even greater margin had they taken all the chances.
Asked about the team’s main strengths, Jaziri said: "We have a very good group of players. The strong bond we have is the secret to our success. Young players respect older ones, and that respect is reciprocated. The atmosphere on the pitch is wonderful and we hope it continues like that and that we continue to win.
"We’re fully focused and will deal with each game as it comes. Today’s victory was great, but it’s only the start, and we still have a long way to go. At these kinds of tournaments, winning your first game is very important, and that’s what we did, but we still have two games against Syria and the UAE, and we must keep up the good work for the remainder of the tournament."
Having scored the first goal in the Arab Cup in its first edition under the auspices of FIFA, Jaziri made a little bit of history. Asked about Tunisia’s opponents, he said: "Mauritania are a good team but now we’re going to focus on the Syria match, which we want to win.”
The Zamalek player made clear his desire to win this much coveted title. "Our goal is to win the competition. The Tunisian people deserve the joy it would bring, and we’ll do all we can here to make them happy,” he explained.
Asked which team he thinks will go far in the tournament, he said after a long pause: "I hope we’ll play Algeria in the final."
Hard work pays off
Jaziri struggled at the beginning of his football career until he joined Zamalek, one of the most reputable clubs in in Egypt and the Arab footballing world. He previously played for Club Africain, where he was hampered by some misfortunes. He then had stints at CS Hammam-Lif and US Ben Graden in Tunisia before signing for Egypt’s Tanta.
He then returned to his home country to play for Stade Gabesien and, after several spells on loan, moved to El Mokawloon, where he became a standout player. That ultimately led to him move to Zamalek, where he became one of the club’s best players and earned an international call-up.
Asked what he did to finally reach the top, the 28-year-old said: “When you work hard and set yourself a goal, nothing can stop you or stand in your way. You must persevere to reach the summit and, regardless of the obstacles you face, you’ll ultimately achieve your aim."
Speaking of his individual ambitions in the tournament, Jaziri concluded: "I want to finish the event as the top scorer. I’ve scored two already and I hope to do even better in the coming games.”