Monday 30 April 2018, 05:12

Badri senses big things for Tunisia

  • ​Anice Badri has made a name for himself in Tunisia since joining Esperance

  • The striker scored a vital goal in the qualifiers for Russia 2018

  • He believes the time has come for the Eagles of Carthage to excel

Every story has to start somewhere, and in the case of Tunisia forward Anice Badri, the exact point at which his career began to chart an upward curve lies in the not-too distant past. After starting out in very modest circumstances with Royal Mouscron-Peruwelz in Belgium, where he produced some notable performances, conjured up the occasional flash of brilliance, and suffered his fair share of injuries, Badri had just one goal in mind: to find the best stage for him to make himself known to his compatriots and put himself in contention for some key engagements in the future.

Badri set his sights on one destination in particular: Esperance Sportive de Tunis. Convinced that a return to his roots in Tunisia would give him the platform he needed to embark on an international career, he signed on the dotted line for the North African giants in 2016. Events since then have shown that he was absolutely right to follow his intuition. “I had some good half-season spells in the Belgian league, but I felt that the time had come for me to change course and join Esperance, especially with the CAF Africa Cup of Nations and the FIFA World Cup coming up on the horizon,” he said, explaining his masterplan.

The move has gone even better than the Lyon-born forward could have expected, however. Feeling very much at home in Tunis, Badri is getting the regular football he has always craved, polishing his game with every passing match. “I’ve progressed on every level: mentally, tactically and physically,” he explained. “I manage matches better now and I’m doing the right things at the right time.”

A turning point Now one of the star attractions of the Tunisian championship, Badri has forced his way into the international arena, playing in the CAF Champions League with his club and with the Eagles of Carthage, just as he had hoped for. Proving every bit as sharp as he is on the domestic stage, the striker has delivered when needed. One such occasion came in Tunisia’s visit to Congo DR in the qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, where his late equaliser secured a valuable 2-2 draw that took the North Africans a big step closer to their fifth world finals appearance.

“I walk down the street and people still talk to me about it. That’s when everything changed for me and I want to maintain the level of confidence that this new status has brought me,” said Badri, who is hoping the good times will continue to roll for him in Russia, where he is expected be one of a sizeable contingent of Esperance players to be involved at football's showpiece event. “I’m certain Tunisia can be one of the revelations of the tournament, and I’m not just saying that because it sounds nice. We’re 14th in the FIFA World Ranking right now, which shows how good we are, and we’re going to prove that on the pitch.”

On each of their four previous World Cup appearances, the Tunisians have packed their bags at the end of the first round. “The time has come to change that,” vowed Badri. “We know how to manage games, play as a unit, make our skills count, keep possession, and make the difference in attack. Our opponents are going to suffer against us,” said the 27-year-old, who feels the Eagles of Carthage’s time has come in Group G, where they will take on Belgium, Panama and England. And as he has shown, Badri has a gift for seeing what the future holds.